Reflections on Brunei 2023

DY Suharya, Director of ADI Asia Pacific, and Shyh Poh Teo, Director of Demensia Brunei, reflect on the 2023 Asia Pacific Regional Conference as co-organisers of the event. 

With the ADI Brunei conference having wrapped up its events at the end of October. ADI looks back on the international meeting that welcomed hundreds of attendees from across the region. Asia Pacific Regional Director, DY Suharya, and Director of Demensia Brunei, Shyh Poh Teo, reflect on the event as co-organisers of the conference. 

The event started with a meeting of regional members for ADI. This meeting aimed to foster greater collaboration and knowledge exchange among the members, which carried through into the conference , taking place from 27-29 October. Shyh Poh commented, “It was a considerable task for our small team to plan and prepare for the meeting and conference. The hard work, dedication, and teamwork from the committee, event management team, partners, and volunteers paid off, as the conference was well-received in Brunei.” 

Established in 2018, Dementia Brunei rapidly became an official member of ADI in 2020. They ambitiously bid to host the conference in 2019 — just a year after forming. Datin Jacqueline Wong, Hon. Advisor, has been instrumental in their journey, guiding their development and integration into the regional membership with the support of DY Suharya.“It’s been inspiring to see how a young member has stepped up and become a host for this regional conference which involved representatives and speakers from 17 countries around the world,” remarked DY Suharya. 

This year’s conference theme, ‘Know Dementia, Know Alzheimer’s: Together We Can Do So Much,’ underscores the necessity of disseminating knowledge about dementia to caregivers, families, people with dementia, stakeholders, policymakers, and the public. “Applying this knowledge collaboratively within our society is how we can achieve a dementia-friendly community,” Shyh Poh continued. This sentiment resonated throughout the conference, emphasising the exchange of knowledge among regional members and all attendees. 

A key objective for Dementia Brunei and the conference was to facilitate learning and sharing of experiences to enable participants to apply their knowledge towards creating dementia-friendly communities. The impressive attendance of 400 people over three days, a significant increase from previous years, reflected the growing commitment and interest in this. The conference also received strong support from the Brunei Government’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports to co-organise the event, with each ministry sending a representative Minister to attend and address the conference. 

The member’s meeting also served as a platform for sharing best practices and learning from international experiences, such as post-diagnostic support from countries like Australia and Singapore. “We’re not going to do this one-off; next year, we will hear from other countries on how they implement post-diagnostic support with or without government funding,” DY highlighted, reiterating ADI’s Asia Pacific Regional Office’s commitment to going beyond singular interventions and support sessions, but providing long term exchange and capacity building. 

An additional highlight for DY was the cultural integration through the Poco Poco dance, adapted by the Alzheimer Indonesia teams, showcasing their cultural heritage and encouraging unity in the conference hall, with the entire delegation from countries including Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Brunei, the Philippines, and Indonesia, joining in the physical and mental activity. This dance, originating from eastern Indonesia, is a powerful tool for dementia risk reduction efforts and in fostering international engagement. 

The diverse programme and the curation of various stakeholders and experts in dementia care from Brunei and beyond underscored the success of the conference. “I am so proud to see different stakeholders from Brunei sharing their experiences and expertise, especially in clinical sessions,” expressed Shyh Poh. 

2023’s Asia-Pacific Regional Conference for Alzheimer’s Disease International in Brunei Darussalam last October marked a significant continuation of our long-term advocacy and fostering international partnerships in the region. ADI would also like to thank Datin Jacqueline Wong in her role as Demensia Brunei’s Honorary Advisor and Champion, who has been crucial to our long-term strategy and implementation as the regional bridge between government entities, advocates, people with dementia, youth and experts, and in conceiving this year’s conference.

The knowledge exchange and collaboration achieved over the course of three days in Brunei highlighted the Asia Pacific region’s growing commitment towards a more informed, supportive, and dementia-friendly society. The success of this conference is a testament to the dedication and hard work of all involved and sets a promising path for future action against dementia. 


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