2022 – 2023

Valedictory Address delivered by the incoming PAHPBS President, Dr Cenon Alfonso

Dr. Antonio Say, President of the Philippine College of Surgeons and Inducting Officer. Dr Ramon Inso, who is also in the call, President elect Philippine College of Surgeons. Madam President, Dr Catherine Teh. Shoutout to our predecessors, our Founding President and Lead Convenor, originators in 2015, Dr Rev Ramon De Vera. Our Second President who led us into national and international recognition by the Philippine College of Surgeons and by the International HPB Surgeons Association (IHPBA) respectively in 2017, Dr Ernesto Tan. Surgical dignitaries, distinguished guests, friends, and co-collaborators in HPB patient care, Good afternoon!

December 2, 2019, during her inaugural address in Shangrila Hotel Ballroom, my dear friend and predecessor, Dr Catherine Teh, challenged the 2020-2021 Board of Trustees and the PAHPBS General Assembly to soar high “into space towards the moon using the rocketship” provided by then rapidly growing membership fueled by its youth, dedication, commitment to the science and practice of HPB surgery, and the compassion to serve HPB patients especially those in the outlier. She dared us all, men and women in the audience to level up “fly high, soar high” to the edge of horizon of HPB care. And she did just that, both figuratively and literally.

First, figuratively. Cathy as we fondly call her, promulgated and put into action the administrative and operational manual of PAHPBS. Using this as framework, she activated, set expectations, supported and pushed the standing committees and subcommittee which are the life and perpetuity of the association. The Committee on Membership, Committee on Surgical Education, Committee on Fellowship Training, Subcommittee on FITE, Subcommittee on Certifying Boards, Committee on External Affairs, and so on and so forth, everyone. Almost singlehandedly, she made official representation to international bodies, the Department of Health, the Philippine College of Surgeons, Philippine Society off General Surgeons, and open memoranda of agreement or activities that led her to for collaboration, with known and related medical-surgical societies.

Institutional branding, by the way, by way of multimedia exposure, newsletter updates, and the painstaking soon-to-be-launched maiden issue of PAHPBS Journal named “Annals of HPB Surgery” had been conceptualized, purposed and duly approved by the Board, by the Office of the President. And because of her avant Gard vision, PAHPBS was able to accomplish so many firsts during her term. Among them, to name a few, the first of the series of PCS Cancer Commission Multidisciplinary Team conference. The first seminar workshop on test construction in certifying Board assessment. The first national lay conference on liver and pancreas cancer. The first in the series of his loving memory, Dr Menandro V. Siozon or the MVS Memorial Lecture, and many others this pace and time could no longer accommodate.

Secondly and literally, Cathy together with her Secretariat, Ms. Tin and Ms. Zarah and the Board of Trustees, due to the onslaught and threats of covid-19 pandemic and its consequent community lockdown moved the entire organization from earth into the digital space. Procedures in communication, conferences, training, meetings, practice guidelines, safety and wellness protocols, infographics, and so on and so forth. In HPB surgery, in safety and wellness against covid-19, and other pertinent instructional disclosure were shifted in widely and easily accessible digital platform. This is how the PAHPBS leadership actively played our role in a very inclusive manner the national and global fight against covid-19.

As if these accomplishments are not enough, Cathy led the Board of Trustees into charting the future of PAHPBS into 2030 by way of the online strategic planning workshop dimly facilitated by now, our Honorary Fellow, Mr. Mennen Aracid. And the Board of Trustees resolved to promulgated this updated new Vision and Mission of the PAHPBS.

Ladies and gentlemen in the next 2 years of this Board’s incumbency, our action plans, in my view, must be aligned with our promulgated Mission and Vision so that we will be able to achieve in the end by 2030, kinda far from now, our Vision.

In terms of membership growth and development, it has already made clear to us that we cannot rely only on organic growth, meaning only surgeons. An exclusive club of HPB surgeons, that’s not going to be the way. While we welcome the young and upcoming HPB trained surgeons here and abroad, we ought to expand more rapidly to affiliates and all its forms. Those health professionals whom we worked with in taking care of HPB patients they are the target. They who are our Cardiologists, Gastroenterologists, Endoscopists, Endocrinologists, Interventional Rads, Medical Oncologist, Anethesiologists, and even Operating Room Nurses, ERAS nurses, even Ward Nurses, who actually worked with us. They without whom we cannot possible be able to deliver optimum care to our patients, and their families, and into the communities.

In my view, this will spell the rapid growth and development of this association in the next couple of years.

We need to exert full effort in measuring outcomes something that we are not very well or very good in doing. We saw and know the plurality of approaches, the lack of guidelines, in some areas, and the lack of compliance to existing guidelines in resource-poor areas.

PAHPBS will have to have its hands dirty and seriously reach out to the underserved and even unserved areas in terms of HPB care. Our guidelines will have to be shaped but by what works and what do not, what can be provided, and what cannot be provided, which can be regionalized, and which was not regionalized. We will have to work with national government, local government units, the PCS, the PSGS, the medical societies and some specialities, industry partners, civic societies, advocacy groups, and even willing NGOs and universities who could be our allies in the care of HPB cases. We need to anticipate what is our role under the Universal Health Care Law. We need to look into how we can pull resources together so that we can employ what we refer to as whole of society approach working for the same mission amidst all the challenges of the pandemic.

Finally, we will continue to build on where we are in the international scenario. Yielding upon long term good relationships with IHPBA, the AHPBA, other international bodies. Where there are a dearth of data make data available through research. Let us generate our own data. And when current technology do not work well in our setting let us innovate. I find this time challenging, very challenging, in fact, and I am telling this new Board, we will be challenged, but at the same time, it is exciting. These are all opportunities for us to do more, and be more, for the sake of our countrymen, our members, and the future of the association. As soon as the year turns to 2022, make no mistake, we will be moving forward towards the direction that this Board has set before us.

I’d like to take this opportunity, before I end, to express our collective and profound gratitude to all our leadership predecessors for selflessly dedicating their lives in leading the association for us and for all those whose lives depend on us.

Mabuhay po tayong lahat!
Maraming salamat po!