Kyaw Zay Ya caught up with Interventional News at the 2019 meeting of the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE; 7–11 September, Barcelona, Spain) to discuss the opportunities and challenges Myanmar faces in developing its interventional radiology (IR) offering.
What is the status of IR in Myanmar?
My country is still developing, so IR in Myanmar is in the very initial phase. For me, I wanted to become an interventional radiologist after my radiology residency. In 2002, I had the chance to apply for fellowship training in Singapore General Hospital (SGH) with Bien Tan Soo—he is my mentor. He helped me a lot, not only to get the training, but also to get continuing interventional activities in Myanmar.
We interventional radiologists need to use so many advanced technologies and equipment, especially consumables—catheters, wires—that were very difficult to get at that time [early 2000s]. Anyhow, I requested that my colleagues at SGH get me some of the instruments and materials, and I tried to develop the interventional procedures in my country. At the same time, I tried to get the younger generation to get similar training like me in Singapore. I try to go to every conference in Singapore and took some of the consumables from SGH. From 2008, I got a chance to get the younger generation, my junior colleagues, training at SGH. One or two radiologists get that chance at SGH each year. Today, I have around 15 to 20 junior colleagues who perform interventional procedures in Myanmar.
Why is Singapore General Hospital a good collaborator?
SGH is very suitable for us. The case load and the instruments available make it the perfect place to train. When I first went in 2002, there were five interventional suites; nowadays, there are about 10 interventional suites in the department, and each and every day, there are at least 15 to 30 cases—on some days, there are 40 cases. Over a training period of one year, therefore, my colleagues can gain a lot of experience.
Primarily, we assist the interventional radiologists at SGH with their procedures. Later, when we [the trainees from Myanmar] are reliable, they give us the chance to do the procedures ourselves, under supervision. If there is a complication, they would come in and help, so it is very good training.
At the same time, Tan Soo and some of the other consultants at SGH not only help us with training and materials, but they also give us the chance to attend international conferences like CIRSE.
In 2010, Myanmar became a member of the Asia Pacific Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology (APSCVIR). Why is this important?
Due to being a member country, we have gained more international exposure. Every year, in January, we have an IR workshop in our country. It is an APSCVIR outreach programme, in collaboration with the Myanmar Radiology Society, in which there is a vascular and interventional radiology section. I am president of this section.
Due to these workshops, the interests of our clinicians and radiologists in IR has become bigger and has spread across the country. Next year, CIRSE president Afshin Gangi and Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) president Laura Findeiss will come and teach, and help us to improve the status of IR.
This collaboration has led to my attendance at CIRSE this year. This is a great opportunity for me to meet with industry and to discuss access to consumables in Myanmar. My aim at these conferences is to get international contacts, and for my junior colleagues to receive training.
What message would you like to give to your IR colleagues in developed nations?
Our country is now open—politically, socially, and economically. IR is very quickly developing and, to ensure quality of care for our patients, we need international support. Because of the population of our country [54 million people], there is a lot of potential to develop a great IR specialty, but we still need some human resources and consumables.
I would like to invite interventional radiologists across the world to come to my country and help us in any way, through training or instrument support. I hope I can improve the status of IR in Myanmar; within the next five years, it will become an international standard [of IR care]. We must dedicate our time and efforts to improving this valuable specialty.