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A Brief History of the Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society.

This year marks the twenty-sixth anniversary of the founding of the Malaysian Endocrine and Metabolic Society (MEMS). MEMS was the brainchild of a few individuals. They were among others Dato’ Prof.Dr. Mustafa Embong, Dato’ Prof.Dr. Anuar Zaini, Dato’ Prof.Dr. Khalid Abdul Kadir, Puan Sri Prof. Dr. Nafisah Adeeb and Dr. Arlene Ngan. It was registered in 1983, two years following the founding of its sister organisation, the Malaysian Diabetes Association (PDM). Prof. Mustafa Embong was the first founding president.

Over the years MEMS has developed into a professional body, the objectives of which are to advance the interest and practice of endocrinology among the Malaysian medical fraternity and the general public. Among its earlier activities was its infamous ‘road show’ where a small group of dedicated endocrinologists would travel around the country, from one state capital to another, conducting endocrine courses for the local doctors. During these road shows many social activities were also organized such as fishing trips and picnics that helped to increase the bond of friendship and spirit of belonging among its members. Many would-be and budding endocrinologists were attracted by the commitment and dedication shown by this small group of teachers that they themselves would later go on to pursue this interesting field of medicine.

Currently MEMS conducts endocrine courses annually for post-graduate doctors as well as general practitioners in various parts of the country. These courses are preceded by practical workshops such as those on thyroid ultrasonography and fine needle aspiration techniques. In addition to its dedicated local faculty, MEMS also occasionally invites international experts to these courses. In 2000 MEMS successfully conducted a joint meeting with Mayo Clinic, which was well attended by both local and overseas participants. The year 2004 also witnessed the historic collaboration between MEMS, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the German Endocrine Society (GES) and the Iranian Endocrine Society in organising the 7th International Conference on Endocrine Disorders (ICED) which was successfully held in Tehran, Iran. MEMS is also able to conduct CME programmes and workshops on a regular basis throughout the country with the support of the pharmaceutical companies.

The other regular activity is that of the Combined Clinical Meetings where members from different institutions would present interesting and difficult cases. The monthly combined clinical meeting has its roots in the early 1990s when endocrinologists in the Klang valley used to meet and share their clinical cases in University Hospital, Petaling Jaya. Discussion was rather informal and friendly ending with a dinner in a nearby Chinese restaurant. This tradition (except for the dinner-due to the increasing number of attendees) has continued over the years and is now a regular monthly feature. In addition there is now a monthly paediatric combined clinical meeting which unlike its rotating adult counterpart is held in UKM Medical Centre.

Individual members of MEMS in addition to their busy clinical practice are also actively involved in teaching and research and sit on various teaching and research chairs in the country. Some have represented the country in organisations such as the Western-Pacific Region of the International Diabetes Federation (WPR-IDF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). MEMS members are also actively involved in assisting the Malaysian Ministry of Health and Academy of Medicine conduct the endocrinology fellowship training programme.

MEMS is a member of the Asean Federation of Endocrine Societies (AFES) and was host to the AFES Congresses in the years 1991, 1997 and as recent as 2007 which were all held in Kuala Lumpur. A unique feature of these congresses is the cultural night where members from different ASEAN countries sing their favourite local melody or perform their traditional dances, something not seen in other international scientific meetings. The award for the best performance tends to go to the graceful Thais or the melodious Philippinos. The worst performance on the other hand seemed to alternate between the Singaporeans and the Malaysians!

Over the years, MEMS was largely responsible for the AFES quarterly publication, the Journal of ASEAN Federation of Endocrine Societies (JAFES) since its inception until it was handed over to the Philippines Endocrine Society in 2007.

MEMS is now going through another phase in its history with the acquisition of a state of the art meeting room adjacent to the busy Kuala Lumpur Central Station (KL Sentral), the setting up of an educational trust fund and the holding of the first MEMS Annual Congress (avidly referred to as MAC) in Penang. Long gone are the days when its members argue over a cup of coffee in a damp semi-lit meeting room in University Hospital PJ whether an anxious patient who was waiting outside required a roof top abdominal surgery for phaeochromocytoma or not...

Written by NA Kamaruddin in 2003 for “AFES 1981-2003: Renewing Our Commitment to the ASEAN Region” (revised 26th May 2009 for the MEMS Website).

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