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The Academy of Sciences Malaysia collaborated with AASSA to organise a Conference on Water-borne Infectious Diseases from 15 to 16 August 2018 at Sunway Putra Hotel.
The conference featured plenary sessions and free paper sessions that brought together international experts on the subject of waterborne infectious diseases and its management.
These experts utilised their expertise to discuss on the wide range of issues related to waterborne infectious diseases management.
The conference was officiated by the Deputy Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) YB Madam Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis.
In her speech, she highlighted the need to accelerate the diffusion of STI knowledge into beneficial technologies to tackle global challenges. She also stated that STI cannot create significant impact by its members working in silo; therefore it is important to see the bigger picture and facilitate the integration of STI into solving water-borne infectious diseases.
ASM Council Member, Vice-president of AASSA and Chairman of the conference Academician Professor Dato’ Dr Khairul Anuar Abdullah FASc delivered his keynote address titled Issues of Global & Regional Water-borne Diseases. He provided an overview of the current state of water quality, occurrences of waterborne diseases outbreak in several countries as well as connecting water quality (notably microbiological quality) to public health.
Prof Khairul Anuar pointed out that water is being threatened by misuse and over-use by the public from all levels. The water issue is affecting the world with the weight of the problem focused on diseases emerging from water that is deemed clean and safe.
Prof Khairul Anuar also specified on the role of health sectors in promoting better water supply. Actions in curbing the infection through water can also be done by regional collaboration in collecting data.
The second keynote address was delivered by Professor Emeritus Dr Michael Barber, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences.
In his keynote titled ‘Health, Water and Water-borne Diseases: Critical to Delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals’, Prof Barber emphasised on the close dependence between the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In this particular conference, Prof Barber highlighted Goal 3 of the SDG which is ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages and Goal 6 which is to ensure access to water and sanitation for all. Since water-borne diseases leads to major epidemics, collaborating and paying attention in delivering the UN’s SDG is vital.
In order for the UN SDGs to remain interconnected, Prof Barber also proposed for stakeholders need to ‘think big, pilot small and scale fast’. To support good water sanitation and have clean and safe water sources, agriculture practices must not wipe out the world’s biodiversity.
The first plenary session, moderated by AASSA President Professor Yoo Hang Kim focused on Health, Water and Waterborne Infectious Diseases Critical to Delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development. The panel comprises ASM Fellows Ir Dr Salmah Zakaria FASc (Chair of the ASM Water Committee), Professor Dr Zulkifli Yusop FASc (Universiti Teknologi Malaysia) and Professor Dr Yang Farina Abdul Aziz FASc (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia).
The second plenary session followed lunch break, carrying the topic Trends of Acquired Infections through Water, the Organisms. It was moderated by Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at MAHSA University Professor Dato’ Dr Ravindran Jegasothy FASc. This session featured Professor Dr Parasakthi Navaratnam (Academy of Medicine Malaysia), Professor Dr Shamala Devi K C Sekaran FASc (MAHSA University), Professor Dr Suresh Kumar FASc (University of Malaya) and Professor Viktor Bogatov (Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences).
The Free Paper Session featured invited speakers from across the world, who presented their academic papers on topics related to water-borne infectious diseases in their respective regions. The first free paper session consisted of Dr Md Sirajul Islam (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) and Dr Orozonova Azyk (National Academy of Sciences of Kyrgyz Republic); the session was moderated by Academician Professor Datuk Dr Looi Lai Meng FASc from University of Malaya.
On the evening of 15 August 2018, Academician Tan Sri Dato’ Ir Ts Ahmad Zaidee Laidin FASc hosted a conference networking dinner on behalf of ASM to welcome the conference’s international guests.
The conference resumed on 16 August 2018, with the second free paper session moderated by Academician Professor Datuk Dr Awg Bulgiba Awg Mahmud FASc. This session featured papers presented by Professor Yong Ho Park (Young Korean Academy of Science and Technology), Dr Gulzar Karybekova (Kyrgyzstan Academy of Sciences), Associate Professor Glenn L. Sia Su (University of the Philippines) and Dr rer. nat. Ir Neni Sintawardani (Indonesian Institute of Sciences).
The final plenary session was moderated by Academician Professor Dato’ Dr Khairul Anuar Abdullah FASc, which was centred on Emerging Waterborne Infectious Diseases in Healthcare Settings. The session featured speakers such as Datuk Dr Christopher Lee Kwok Chong (Ministry of Health Malaysia), Professor Datuk Dr Awg Bulgiba Awg Mahmud FASc (University of Malaya) and Professor Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman FASc (International Medical University).
The management of waterborne infectious disease management does not stop at the conference; a tangible way forward must be formulated to ensure efforts to mitigate water-borne infectious diseases is maintained with the right knowledge and techniques. Therefore, an Official Resolution was formulated that will serve as a guide and a pledge by all members present in order for the efforts to manage waterborne infectious diseases to be continued. The Conference Resolution was presented by Ir Dr Salmah Zakaria FASc.
The conference was wrapped up by a speech by Academician Professor Dato’ Dr Khairul Anuar Abdullah FASc. After the lunch, the international guests were brought on a trip to Karangkraf Kuala Lumpur as well as a visit to Suria KLCC.