12th Asian and Oceanian Epilepsy Congress (AOEC)

Bali, Indonesia

28 June - 1 July 2018

The 12th Asian & Oceanian Epilepsy Congress (12th AOEC) was held in Bali, Indonesia, from June 28th to July 1st, 2018, at the Prime Plaza Hotel in Sanur. The appointment of Indonesia as the venue of the AOEC had special meaning because Indonesia was recognized as the final country among the Asian and Oceanian chapters to satisfy the criteria set out by the regional committees of ILAE and IBE for hosting an AOEC.

The Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC) was led by three co-chairs: Byung-In Lee, South Korea (representing ILAE), Parthasarthy Satishchandra, India (representing IBE) and Kurnia Kusumastuti, Indonesia, represented the host country; in addition ILAE and IBE appointed five members from the region to make up the SOC. Howan Leung, Hong Kong and Fitri Octaviana, Indonesia were the Abstract Review Committee (ARC) co-chairs with members of the CAOA, ASEPA, IBE RECs and many locals making up the ARC. The strong scientific programme was formulated by the CAOA and regional chapter representatives to signify the diversities of the vast Asian and Oceanian region. ASEPA (Asian Epilepsy Academy) and its’ chair John Dunne, Australia provided excellent pragmatic programmes, which complimented the scientific programme and were of great interest to delegates. The Congress benefited from a raised profile on social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, Weibo and Youtube.

458 abstracts were submitted for this Congress (the highest at any AOEC); 40 were accepted as platform presentations, two were selected for presentation in the CAOA Research Task Force sessions, and 305 were accepted for poster presentations. The CAOA awarded 29 bursaries to young investigators from low and low to middle income chapters on the basis of high-quality abstracts. The Tadokoro Prize, a tradition of the AOEC, was endowed to the two best poster and two best platform presentations during the Awards Ceremony on the last day of the Congress.

Recipients of Tadokoro’s Award at the 12th AOEC.
Recipients of Tadokoro’s Award at the 12th AOEC. From the left, Dr. P. Gong(China), Dr. G.V. Soraya(Australia), Dr. A. Ikeda(Chair of AOEC, Japan), Dr. SH Kim(Korea), Dr. S Fernando(Sri Lanka)

The 12th AOEC was held in the Prime Plaza Hotel in Sanur with the congress taking all of the accommodation and session rooms in the hotel resulting in a terrific atmosphere throughout the Congress. 1,175 people attended the 12th AOEC; there were 368 from Indonesia; 88 from India; 61 from Japan; 60 from China; 56 from Thailand; 55 from Philippines; 51 from Korea and 50 from Bangladesh. 52 countries were represented at this Congress.

Eisai was the preliminary sponsor for the 12th AOEC and other pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Abbott exhibited. There were notably many more device companies exhibiting than before. The larger sponsors for previous AOECs such as UCB, Sanofi, GSK, LivaNova, Pfizer, and Novartis were unable to support the 12th AOEC due to the strict pharmaceutical laws that the Indonesian Government impose about the drugs that they wish to market having to be registered with the Indonesian Authorities.

Two ASEPA pre-congress workshops initiated the Congress programme attracting almost 200 delegates. The ILAE/CAOA Chapter Convention was held with a full participation of chapter delegates; the welcome address of Akio Ikeda (Chair of CAOA) was followed by messages from ILAE (President Samuel Wiebe and General Secretary, Ed Bertram) and reports from CAOA officers and its’ Task-Force chairs. All attendees approved and supported ILAE activities in the region. Read the full report about ASEPA courses here.

The 12th AOEC opened with the Chairmen’s symposium entitled “Personalized medicine in epilepsy” providing information about forthcoming new dimensions of epilepsy care. It was a great privilege to have Chong Tin Tan, Malaysia deliver the Seino Memorial Lecture entitled “Epilepsy care: issues related to work, leisure, upbringing and culture”. ASEPA provided a useful session on “Sharing your research: participation, presentation and publication”, which was divided into part 1 and part 2. The first day concluded with the Welcome Ceremony featuring speeches from ILAE’s President Sam Wiebe (Canada) and IBE’s President Martin Brodie (Scotland) and the Congress co-chairs. The representative from the Ministry of Health of Bali, Dr. Ketut Suarjaya, Chief of the Bali Provincial Health Service, expressed his deep appreciation for hosting the 12th AOEC in Bali.

The Asian and Oceanian Outstanding Award in Epilepsy was presented to Simon Harvey (Australia), Zhen Hong (China), Shang Shang-Yeong Kwan (Taiwan), and Zarine Mogal (Pakistan) accompanied by informative summaries of their achievement highlighting their dedication and contribution to the region.

Recipients of Asian and Oceanian Outstanding Epilepsy Award Winners at the 12th AOEC
Recipients of Asian and Oceanian Outstanding Epilepsy Award Winners at the 12th AOEC. From the left, Dr. A. Ikeda(Chair of AOEC, Japan), Dr. Z. Hong( China), S.Y. Kwan(Taiwan), Dr. J. Dunne(General Secretary of AOEC, Australia). Dr. Z. Mogal(Pakistan), and S. Harvey(Australia)

In addition, through the Golden Light Awards, IBE honored three young people from the region who constantly strive to improve the lives of those living with epilepsy. The Welcome Ceremony was followed by a reception in the tropical gardens of the hotel where all participants enjoyed meeting friends old and new, some beautiful traditional music and dance of Bali, and plenty of local food and drinks.

Mount Agung erupted on the evening of the 28th June closing down the airport for most of the following day. This resulted in four speakers not being able to travel to Bali but the SOC were grateful to those that offered to take on additional roles at the congress at the last minute either with or without the slides of the original speaker. Notably Emilio Perucca (Italy) ended up giving two talks in the same session as his son, Piero Perucca, was one of those whose travel was affected by the volcanic eruptions. Abstract no-shows were higher than previous AOECs (at 12%); again, the cancellation of flights may have been a contribution to this; additionally, onsite registration numbers were low at only 6%. Given that onsite registrations were expected from Indonesians, they may have decided not to come to the Congress after all given the travel restrictions. However, one benefit with the ash cloud was the lack of internet and mobile networks for much of the day, resulting in many participants enjoying a day of peace and quiet in in Bali with no e-mail or SMS.

For the second and third day of the Congress, ASEPA didactic lectures opened the programme early in the morning and were followed by a highly topical main session. A post main session along with three parallel sessions covered all epilepsy genres. The afternoon featured an array of practical sessions including debates and interactive video sessions as well as the Congress platform and poster presentations. In addition, CAOA’s Task Forces offered their own sessions for the planning and promotion of their activities throughout the region; the Research Task Force (current and past chairs: Kheng-Seang Lim, Malaysia, Chong Tin Tan, Malaysia and Akio Ikeda, Japan) the Pediatric Task Force (current and past chairs: Anannit Visudtibhan, Thailand and Heung Dong Kim, South Korea) and the Global Campaign Against Epilepsy Task Force (chair: Ernie Somerville, Australia).

One of sessions in progress at the 12th AOEC
One of sessions in progress at the 12th AOEC

The last day of the congress was just as busy with a full complement of scientific sessions and it also benefited from the introduction of a Ketogenic Workshop run by ILAE’s Medical Therapy Task Force. The Epilepsy and Society Symposium organized by the regional chapters of IBE also took place on this final day with 88 people joining in; unfortunately, there were just a handful of local people resulting in a comparatively low attendance figure for this event.

In conclusion, the 12th AOEC was deemed to be a tremendous success in all aspects with particular praise received for the high scientific standard, the set-up in the venue and the warm Balinese hospitality. Furthermore, it was acknowledged how important bringing the AOEC to Indonesia was, a country with a population of 250 million people, in assisting in the advancement of epilepsy care and reducing the treatment gap throughout Indonesia. The 12th AOEC was not only the place for learning advanced epileptology but also an excellent location for networking and collaboration for all those working in the field of epilepsy across the region and beyond. The regional committees of ILAE and IBE look forward to building on the success of the 12th AOEC at the 13th AOEC which will take place in Fukuoka in October 2020.

Submitted by Byung-In Lee, Scientific Organizing Committee Co-Chair