Looking back at my first IPVS Congress

23-02-2012 | |
Hyung Lee
Won Hyung Lee IPVS 2012

The first IPVS Congress that I attended was the one in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1990, which remains one of the most memorable and interesting experiences in my life. Only seven people attended from my country – three professors, a staff from an animal health company, and myself, who at that time was working as a swine practitioner in the largest swine company in Korea.

At the 1990 Congress, a presentation by Dr. Han Soo Joo – currently serving as Chair of the International Scientific Committee of IPVS 2012 – and a graduate student on “mysterious swine diseases” received much attention from the participants.
As a young swine veterinarian, I really hoped to get to know many authors of “Disease of Swine” – I had an opportunity to meet Dr. Tom Alexander for the first time there. I also had time to exchange various views with Dr. Alex Hogg. During that time, many gilts in my company farms had a problem with conjunctivitis, and Dr. Hogg advised me as a potential mycoplasmal infection.
Also, Dr. Joo introduced me to Dr. Al Leman, and I remember we talked about pig veterinarians. Unfortunately, the many I met at my first IPVS Congress have now passed away, due my deepest regret as I could have gone to them for valuable advice in preparing for the IPVS Congress to be held in Korea this year.
Unlike now where advanced printing technologies allow us to have full-size posters in beautiful colours, I remember Dr. Yeh who participated with a poster that he had hand-written with a marker pen. Some poster presenters prepared their findings on A4 size papers, which they glued together. How the world has changed!
Another good memory is of the Farewell Party, which was on a boat on Lake Lehman. Every participant was assigned to a boat, and since there was no one that I knew on my boat, it was a good opportunity for me to make new friends, one of whom was an Italian of my age. At the end of the dinner, he invited me to visit him at his home in Italy, and even gave me some Italian currency to use to come visit him. My first ever visit in Europe at the end of the 1990 IPVS Congress and the warm welcome I received from my new friend remains one of my fondest memories in my entire life.
A vote was held at the General Assembly that year to determine the host of the 1994 Congress. Thailand, although behind the other two competing countries in terms of scientific program in the bid to host the 1994 IPVS Congress, won the vote following its presentation of the many things to see and eat in the country as well as its announcement that the Thai Government had pledged full support if it won the bid. Thailand’s victory came as a refreshing shock to me, and I thought that if Thailand could host the IPVS, so could Korea. We were not many from Korea at the time, but we thought that one day, it would be wonderful if we could be given the honor to organise the IPVS Congress in our home country. However, it was just wishful thinking on our part for the time being.
The number of Korean participants increased rapidly after the 1990 Congress, especially after the 1994 IPVS Congress in Bangkok, the first in Asia. The profile of the participants from Korea also became more varied over time, with not only swine practitioners, researchers, veterinarians, and professionals working in animal health and feed companies attending, but also former veterinarians-elected as congressmen participating as well, among others. Such high interest in the swine industry and the IPVS has stimulated research, encouraged contribution to pig veterinary magazines and presentations in scientific meetings, and has raised the status of the industry within Korea as well as in the world.
In the meantime, the desire to host an international meeting that was ignited at my first IPVS Congress led to the exchanges with the Japanese Association of Swine Veterinarians (JASV) while I was serving as the vice president of the Korean Association of Swine Veterinarians (KASV). In 2000, I met Dr. Ohi, the current president of JASV, and other executive members at the annual JASV meeting, and we agreed to launch a meeting gathering the main players in the swine industry in the Asian region.
In 2001, the representatives of the leading countries in swine production in Asia – China, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines – attended the annual KASV meeting in Korea, where we decided to form an Asian Pig Veterinary Society (APVS). It was also decided by unanimous consent at that time that the first APVS Congress would be held in Seoul, Korea. Despite the unexpected outbreak of the FMD virus in 2002, the plan to hold the inaugural APVS Congress in Korea was pushed ahead, and the historical 1st ever APVS Congress was successfully held that year, with some 550 participants from 40 countries attending. Since then, four more bi-annual APVS meetings have been held, the second in the Philippines in 2005, followed by the third in China in 2007, the fourth in Japan in 2009, and the fifth in Thailand in 2011. The sixth APVS Congress will be held in Vietnam in 2013. I am grateful and very proud that the APVS has grown into a well-established international society.
With such international experience behind us, the president and members of the KASV decided to participate in a bid to host the IPVS Congress in Korea. Finally, Korea won the bid to host the IPVS Congress at the 2008 meeting in Durban, South Africa, and now, the key members of KASV at that time and the Korean founding contributors of APVS established the Organizing Committee of IPVS 2012, putting in utmost effort to present unforgettable memories to all the participants. I cannot wait to follow up with stories about how we successfully hosted the IPVS Congress in Jeju, Korea this year!