Asian Society for Neuroanaesthesia and Critical Care (ASNACC): An Untold Story

Hari Hara Dash, MD
Past President, ASNACC

Hari Hara Dash, MD

The formation of a regional scientific organization is a daunting task, with formidable challenges during the initial stage. Usually, a group with equal wavelength, determination, and focused objectives is paramount in raising such a regional scientific society. The formation of the Asian Society for Neuroanesthesia and Critical Care (ASNACC) has an untold story to share.

The dream of having a regional society in Neuroanesthesia started germinating in his mind while he was undergoing training in Neuroanesthesia (3 months) under the mentorship of Prof. Takashita at Yamaguchi University, Japan. At that time, he was a Clinical Instructor in Anesthesiology. Prof. Takashita was a renowned neuroscientist and anesthesiologist who was instrumental in laying down the definition and criteria for brain death in Japan. The young budding Anesthesiologist and Neuroscientist was none other than Dr. Haekyu Kim of Pusan University, South Korea.

While attending annual conference of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) in October 1999, Prof Haekyu Kim had a long discussion with Prof James Cottrell pertaining to the growth and development of neuroanesthesia as a sub-specialty in the whole of Asia. He further floated his idea of having a Pan Pacific Society in Neuroanesthesia. On the contrary, Prof Cottrell suggested having an Asian group first. With his untiring and dedicated efforts, Prof. Kim organized the first joint symposium comprising of like-minded neuroanesthesiologists from China, Japan, and Korea, under the banner of Neuroanesthesia Friendship at Jeju, Korea, on August 27-29, 2004. There was a positive vibe for the formation of a regional body of Neuroanesthetists for the whole of Asia. Hence, an important decision was taken, and other Asiatic countries were invited for the subsequent joint meeting.

In 2005, Prof Haekyu Kim was invited as a guest speaker for the 6th Annual Conference of the Indonesian Society of Neuroanesthesia and Critical Care (INA-SNACC) held at Surabaya. During the conference, he discussed his cherished dream of formation of ASNACC with Prof. Tatang Bisri, the founder President of INA-SNACC. Dr. Bisri was invited to attend the 2nd Joint Symposium of Neuroanaesthesia group held in Osaka. In 2006 delegates from Indonesia and Singapore participated in the 2nd joint meeting in addition to the core member countries, i.e.- China, Korea, and Japan. On April 16th, 2006, a unanimous decision to form ASNACC was taken in that meeting. The proposed goals were to exchange knowledge, transfer technology, and develop new ideas and research methodology to improve the quality of life of neurosurgical and critically ill neurological patients in Asiatic countries. Prof Sakabe of Japan was elected as the first President and Prof. Kim as the Secretary-General. Along with membership fees, it was decided to organize the ASNACC congress biennially. In that meeting, it was also decided to have the 1st ASNACC meeting in 2008 in Beijing, China, under the Chairmanship of Prof. Bao Guo Wang. Prof Tatang Bisri of Indonesia volunteered to organize the 2nd ASNACC meeting in Indonesia. Further, it was decided to have the exchange program for the anesthetists interested in training in neuroanesthesia and neurocritical care. Korea, Japan, India, and Singapore volunteered to make this exchange program feasible. The exchange of young anesthetists for training in neuroanesthesia and critical care in advanced centers has helped countries like Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar to strengthen their neuroanesthesia facilities.

The first ASNACC conference organized by the Chinese group was a spectacular success in which 450 delegates from seven Asiatic countries participated. Prof Haekyu Kim was elected unanimously as the President-Elect of ASNACC in 2008. In that congress, a mutual understanding was muted between Prof Tatang Bisri of Indonesia and Prof H. H. Dash to swap the 2nd ASNACC congress venue from Indonesia to India, which was recommended by the President-Elect, Prof. Haekyu Kim.

Due to some logistic and internal problems, the 2nd ASNACC congress was organized along with the 12th National Annual Conference of the Indian Society of Neuroanaesthesia and Critical Care (ISNACC) on February 25-27, 2011 instead of 2010 under the organizing chairman Prof. H.H. Dash at New Delhi, India. The 2nd ASNACC congress was a great success, with 330 delegates participating from 9 Asiatic countries. So far, the biennial ASNACC congress has also been organized in Bali, Indonesia, Busan, Korea, Singapore, and Nara, Japan. During the 6th ASNACC meeting, Prof Kew Tong Kiat (Singapore) was elected as the President, and he continued to hold the post owing to the ongoing pandemic. The 7th ASNACC was scheduled to be held during November 18-20, 2021, at Iloilo, Philippines. However, the meeting has been rescheduled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and is expected to be held in 2023 by our Philippines friends.

The functioning of ASNACC remains unhindered because of Prof Haekyu Kim’s unflinching determination and sincere endeavor. He was instrumental not only in the formative stage but also as current treasurer of ASNACC, he is determined to make the organization economically independent and healthy.

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Figure 1: An academic break during ASNACC 2019 at Nara, Japan




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