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Member Society Highlight (May): PSAAI

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

Because of their desire to strengthen the practice of allergy/immunology in the Philippines and to promote the recognition of allergy/immunology as a distinct subspecialty, a group of 11 pioneeering allergists, namely: Dr Arturo Rotor, Dr Felicidad Cua-Lim, Dr Benigno Agbayani, Dr Avelina Bacnis, Dr Eleanor Dacanay, Dr Miguel Noche, Dr Augusto Lingao, Dr Manuel Ferreria, Dr Amelia Castillo, Dr Anne Duque and Dr Alison Felarca established the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (PSAAI) in 1972.

Dr. Felicidad Cua-Lim was elected the first and founding president of the society while Dr. Arturo Rotor became the first PSAAI Honorary President. Through the years, the Society has been led by other exemplary and skilled physician leader practitioners such as: Dr Benigno Agbayani, Dr Miguel Noche, Dr Augusto Lingao, Dr Manuel Ferreria, Dr Alendry Caviles, Remedios Ong, Dr Manuel Po, Dr Madeleine Sumpaico, Dr Hiyasmin Lim, Dr Florecita Padua, Dr Ruby Foronda, Dr Linda Lim-Varona, Dr Jovilia Abong, Dr Maria Carmela Agustin-Kasala and currently, Dr Marysia T. Recto.

PSAAI leadership Maria Carmela A Kasala, Eileen, Linda Verona, Marysia Recto and Eileen with Prof. Pawankar.

The society is a recognized active member in good standing of the World Allergy Organization and the Asia Pacific Association of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology. Locally, the PSAAI is a recognized specialty society of the Philippine Medical Association, a subspecialty society of the Philippine College of Physicians and a subspecialty section of the Philippine Pediatric Society.

Through the years, membership has grown to 134 members through the establishment of three training centers for allergy/immunology: University of the Philippines Philippine General Hospital, University of Sto. Tomas College of Medicine and Surgery and , Dr. Fe del Mundo Medical Center Foundation Phils.

In 1988, the 1st PSAAI Convention was held at the Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel. Thereafter, conventions were held biennially for continuing medical education. In 1998, the PSAAI hosted the 3rd APAAACI Congress at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila, with Dr Felicidad Cua Lim as Congress Chair during the Presidency of Dr Remedios Ong who had taken over as President upon the sudden, untimely demise of Dr Alendry Caviles. Recently however, the membership has agreed to hold conventions every year, with the traditional PSAAI Allergy Convention on the even year; and a focused symposium and an Immunology Congress on the odd year.

Come 2022, as the Society turns 50, the PSAAI will host the APAAACI /APAPARI Joint Congress in Manila, celebrating in a grand special golden way!

Indeed, PSAAI has come a long way - a golden legacy from our pioneer allergists whom we shall always remember with love, honor and respect. Through the years, PSAAI has grown yet remained steadfast in raising awareness of allergic diseases, strengthening the practice of allergy, keeping updated with new medications, technology and innovations and leaping into the new age in the hope of finding solutions for issues and controversies in Allergy and Immunology. With the younger allergists coming in, the future certainly looks very bright.

The Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (PSAAI) held its first Skin Allergy Symposium entitled “Beyond Scratching the Surface” last May 30, 2019. The meeting brought together allergists, pediatricians, internists, dermatologists and general physicians interested in the challenging issues related to skin allergy. The organizing committee put together an excellent program which covered Atopic Dermatitis and new treatment paradigms, Cutaneous Manifestations of Drug Allergies, Systemic Illnesses and Primary Immunodeficiencies, Urticaria and Contact Dermatitis.

The distinguished local and foreign speakers vibrantly discussed the various topics. Prof. Ruby Pawankar, current President of the Asia Pacific Association of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology (APAAACI), spoke on the Microbiome and its relation to Airway Allergies. Dr Gary Steven, currently a member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, discussed the New Treatment Paradigms in Atopic Dermatitis: Understanding and Incorporation Recent and Emerging Therapies.

Prof. Pawankar lecturing at the PSAAI Skin Allergy Symposium 2019

Currently the society’s focus is in its upcoming National Allergy Day to be celebrated on July 7 and its 3rd Immunology Congress to be held in the island of Cebu on September 2, 2019.

Maria Carmela A Kasala, MD, FPPS, FPSAAI

Immediate Past President, PSAAI

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