COVID-19, Lockdowns, Uncertain Times and The Impact…
Dear Esteemed Friends and Colleagues,
Greetings and hope all are in good health!
After more than 1 year of lockdowns and social distancing, we all need some social activities to remain sane and healthy. The next MPA annual congress would be the 11th Asia Pacific Paediatric Endocrine Society (APPES) 2021 Scientific Meeting in conjunction with the 42nd MPA Annual Congress 2021 on 25-28 November 2021. Initially planned as a hybrid event, we had to convert it into a full virtual event due to the sudden surge of COVID-19 cases and new variants. Please visit our MPA website for on-going updates, register for the congress, and submit abstracts. Registration is free for MPA life members above 60 years old. While we had hoped and planned for an in-person congress, seeing that most of us have been vaccinated, alas it was not to be, and this year will be our first ever virtual congress.
COVID-19 vaccines vs variants
While the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalisation, and death from COVID-19, and also reducing the likelihood of mild and asymptomatic infection, a small percentage of fully vaccinated individuals still gets breakthrough infection as no vaccine is 100% effective. As such, it would be wise for us to continue wearing mask, practice safe distancing, and making sure our spaces are well ventilated.
Current knowledge regarding the Delta variant infection showed that vaccinated and unvaccinated people have similarly high SARS-CoV-2 viral loads. Hence, vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant still have the potential to transmit the virus to the same degree. If a fully vaccinated individual is symptomatic, one should be tested and should not be out in public for at least 10 days after a positive test. We await more information on the new Lambda variant.
The Malaysian Paediatric Foundation partially supported the Toddler’s Nutrition Project spearheaded by Prof Dr Lucy Lum through the MPF Mohd Sham Kasim Research Award in 2019. It is an intervention program conducted within the low-cost flat PPR Taman Putra Damai, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. It aims to improve the nutrition and health of children below 6 years through nutritional education and fresh food aid. Piloted from July 2020 to May 2021, the project involves a variety of unique collaborations seeking to create an eco-system advocating for sustainable nutritional support while addressing food insecurity.
A 2018 report by UNICEF on children of the urban poor in the Klang Valley revealed that one in two households reported that they did not have enough money to buy food and malnutrition was a major concern for children. Among the low-cost flat residents, 15% of children under 5 years old were stunted, 22% underweight, and 23% either overweight or obese. During this prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, many more families are struggling with daily needs, especially amongst the B40 families. Parents have lost their income, many children have no food, and some orphaned. The situation is now dire in most low-cost flats. Prof Lucy Lum and her team have extended the food outreach programme to more PPRs within the Klang Valley.
All chairpersons of MPA State Subcommittees and Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) were invited to join our virtual EXCO meeting in May 2021 and twelve attended. Most states and TAGs were unable to carry out any continuous medical education activities or advocacy programmes over the last one year due to the movement control order restrictions. To facilitate more CME activities and advocacy programmes, MPA has purchased two Zoom virtual packages which could accommodate 100 pax for virtual meetings and 500 pax for virtual conferences/webinars. We are now in the process of engaging personnel and learning how to use these packages. All chairpersons of MPA State Subcommittees and TAGs are encouraged to use these Zoom packages for your MPA State Subcommittee and TAG activities.
APPSPGHAN 2022 in conjunction with the 43rd MPA Annual Congress is tentatively planned as a hybrid meeting on 14-16 October 2022 at Sabah International Convention Centre. The 17th Asia Pacific Congress of Pediatrics (APCP), which was initially planned for 29-31 October 2021, has been postponed to 10-13 March 2022. It will be a hybrid conference in Lahore Pakistan.
The new norm dictates that we get used to either virtual (totally online) or hybrid (combination of live face-to-face and online) meetings. Continuous medical education will continue but the way we learn will be different.
Stay healthy, stay safe. Thank you.
Hung Liang Choo