Another Weekend .... Another Conference
It is the season now when almost every weekend, my calender were filled with conference date. And again, similar to last weekend, the organiser is using the same tact. Bring the international panel in, fill the audience with regional delegates, and another interesting meet-up. The venue this time is Le Meridien, at KL Sentral. But the meeting is certainly not on the cheap. Rumour has it that it cost USD 1000 per delegate pro rata.
There is the cost of flying the speakers and delegates in. They will need the flight and lodging taken care of. Then, there is always the conference dinner. It was KL Tower last weekend. It is Carcosa Sri Negara tonight. It may be good for the Mat Salleh and anyone who can attend. Unfortunately I am on call tonight, was it was 8pm by the time I finished my rounds.
The meeting today was concerning Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML). It was a disease that was universally fatal. But the patients do not die there and then. There were basically given a probation, usually for as long as 3 years give and take. They are relatively well until towards the end when the disease will cause their bone marrow to fail, and they will need regular blood transfusion and treatment for infection. But ultimately they succumb. Around 7 years ago, a drug call Glivec was introduced. It revolutionise the treatment of CML almost overnight. Patients do not any longer need chemotherapy or other treatment with debilitating side-effects. The drug is taken orally, daily with tolerable problems. The main issue with it is the cost.
Malaysia in this sense should still count itself lucky because it still labelled as 'Third World Economy'. The drug usually cost RM 10000 per month, and the patient will need it for the rest of their life. It is almost impossible for us to afford it. Step forward the Max Foundation. It was given the task to distribute the drug at no cost to the patient by Glivec manufacturer, Novartis Pharmaceuticals to people like Malaysians. The responsibility for the patient is the promise to attend follow-up regularly, to monitor the response and to see if the disease has progressed despite treatment. The results of the monitoring are then collected and studied.
There are many people that are benefiting from this program - called GIPAP here in Malaysia. The foundation also host a patient support group for CML patient and caregiver, Max Family. I have been helping them out for many years as much as I can because I must say that they are very likely the most active cancer support group running in the country.
On a separate matter, as I mentioned in my entry last week, Malaysia can go along way in marketing itself as a conference and meeting hub. We got the facilities and the know-how. The multi-national companies will spend good money for these meetings and the clients that they invite in will have the spending power. That will only galvanise our economy. Go on Dr Ng Yen Yen. You know it makes sense.