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The Asia & Oceania Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (AOFOG) was originally conceived in 1954, as the Asian Division of the International Federation of Gynaecology & Obstetrics (Geneva). Subsequently however, at the Inaugural Meeting in Tokyo in 1957, it was decided that it be established as the Asian Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, an autonomous body which would seek affiliation, at a later stage, with the International Federation of Gynaecology & Obstetrics.
The conveners of that meeting were:
- Dr H de Watteville (Switzerland)
- Dr A Ayesa (Philippines)
- Dr Hideo Yagi (Japan)
The regional delegates comprised the following:
- India - Prof B N Purandare and Prof S Mitra
- Pakistan - Prof H Ahmed and Dr R G Mahomed
- Singapore - Prof B H Sheares and Dr A C Sinha
- Malaysia - Dr R Thuriapah and Dr Kanagasingam
- Philippines - Dr A Acosta-Sison and Prof A S Baens
- China (Taiwan) - Dr Chien-Tien Hsu and Dr C S Wu
- S Korea - Prof Suk Whan Kim and Dr Heung Jin Yo
- Hawaii - Dr T Sakimoto and Dr S Nishijima
- Indonesia - Prof R S Prawirohardjo and Dr R M Judono
- Vietnam - Prof Tran Dien De and Dr Nguyen Van Hong
- Hong Kong - Dr D K Samy Pillay
- Japan - Prof G Ogawa and Prof Hideo Yagi
Membership of the Federation is open to the national societies of Obstetrics & Gynaecology in each country of Asia. When more than one society exists in a given country, each claiming the right to represent that country itself, the societies must resolve this problem within the country itself, or else set up a coordination committee recognized by two or more societies of the country. In other words, no country can be represented by more than one national society. Click here to see the original (1957) Statutes proposed for the Federation. They are reproduced in full to underline the sense of regional cooperation evident among obstetricians and gynaecologists in this part of Asia in the fifties.
The Secretariat was established in Manila, under the auspices of the Philippines Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society Inc with Dr Jose Villanueva as Secretary General. In 1959, Australia and New Zealand joined as Associate Members of the Federation and when in 1979, these two countries were accepted as full members, the name was changed to Asia & Oceania Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.
The First Asian Congress of Obstetrics & Gynaecology was held in Tokyo, Japan, from 4-6 April 1957. Dr Hideo Yagi (Japan) was elected Chairman of the Federation and he held that post till the Second Congress held in Calcutta, India, on 23-26 January 1962. The Third Asian Congress of Obstetrics & Gynaecology was held in Manila, Philippines, from 14-16 January 1965. Thereafter, the congresses were held every three years till 1977, after which the interval was two years. The Constitution now requires that the congresses be held at least every three years. From 1987, it became the practice to organise a seminar or workshop together with the congress.
At the 13th General Assembly held in Tokyo in October 1979, it was decided that the Secretariat of the Federation should move to Singapore. A new Constitution, initiated in Bangkok, was also accepted . The combined position of the Secretary General-cum-Treasurer was split and the new Constitution provided for a Secretary General and a separate Treasurer. Professor S S Ratnam of Singapore was elected Secretary General and Professor Suporn Koetsawang from Thailand, Treasurer.
Not long after the formation of the Federation, it became apparent that it had a positive and extensive role to play in assisting their members in the improvement of facilities in several countries in the region. This is because Fertility Management and Maternal & Child Health Care services are woefully inadequate in many countries in the third world; and infant, maternal and perinatal mortality is high in these developing countries. In many rural areas, where the bulk of the population live, there is only one physician per one hundred thousand people, compared with the norm of one per thousand population. The proportion of obstetricians and gynaecologists and related specialist support staff are proportionately fewer in number.
Members of the medical profession, and especially those concerned with Obstetrics & Gynaecology, although adequately qualified professionally, are so weighed down in some countries by the enormity of their task and other constraints, that they are generally unable to follow up on international developments in technology and research findings as closely as they would desire.
Most governments in the third world include Fertility Regulation in their Health and Maternal & Child Care programmes, but for a variety of reasons are unable to make available the comprehensive services that are desirable, nor provide the personnel involved with continuous education programmes to keep them abreast with current developments. Since the benefits of research and technological progress elude many members of the medical fraternity, not only those employed in the rural areas, but even those engaged in hospitals and medical care centres in the cities, one of the roles of the Federation is to develop machinery to provide medical and medical-related personnel information of current developments and research in this field.
AOFOG, in response to requests from its affiliates in the region has become the coordinator for many projects; it hopes that its role in new activities is only an interim arrangement, until a more permanent solution for continually improving and upgrading these educational programmes in member countries is evolved. Among other things, the Federation also serves as catalyst and coordinator for its affiliates in member countries in identifying appropriate specialists worldwide in providing the necessary structure and financial support for them to participate at special national courses to meet the needs of its affiliates at their refresher/modernization courses in Fertility Management and Maternal & Child Health Care.
AOFOG activities have, by example, generated greater participation by obstetricians and gynaecologists and medical scientists at other related international congresses held in the region and elsewhere.