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Organization Background
Philippine Society of Sleep Medicine: A History

Sleep was a subject that merited little attention in medical school resulting in the meager knowledge that graduating doctors had in terms of its associated diseases. Discussing it with most physicians would have elicited a response similar to discussing the internet in the late eighties.


In the year 2002, a conscious effort was made to gather like-minded physicians from different specialties to consolidate the forces of sleep medicine. A meeting of the first eight members of the board signaled the beginning of the society. The first board was elected with Dr. Felicidad Soto, a neurologist and a pioneer in the field of Philippine sleep medicine being acclaimed as the founding president. The first year saw the incorporation of the society and the holding of the First Sleep Symposium on March 2003, which coincided with the World Sleep Day, at the Manolo Lopez Conference Center in Antipolo. Despite having only twelve members, the conference saw an attendance of around sixty delegates with the participation of numerous pharmaceutical companies and sleep related providers.

 

The year 2003 saw the assumption of the presidency by Dr. Mercy Antoinette Gappi, a pulmonologist, as the second president. Fresh from her vice-presidency and successful stint as course director of the first symposium, she personally spearheaded efforts to formalize the criteria for membership, with the creation of new categories for health professionals who had not had training in sleep yet expressed an interest in the field. The logo of the society was commissioned and chosen by the majority of the members whose number had now increased to eighteen. In an effort to reach out to the rest of Luzon, the 2nd Sleep Symposium was held at the Baguio Country Club in 2004.

 

The third year had loftier aspirations, envisioning a program to reach out to physicians in the Visayas and Mindanao region. The number of fellows had now increased to twenty-three. Under the presidency of Dr. Patrick Moral, another pulmonologist, the 3rd Sleep Symposium was held at the Shangri La Mactan resort, gathering an impressive turnout of over a hundred delegates. An internet site for exchange of ideas was set up under philsleep@yahoogroups.com. As the society was still in its infancy, it was decided to extend the terms of board and the current officers to two years in order to enable a continuity in the planning and implementation. Likewise, the symposium was transformed into a biennial activity as holding it annually was taxing on the small number of members at that time.

 

In 2006, the society had its first strategic planning session at the Edsa Shangri La Hotel where the direction of the society for the next five years was mapped out, looking at affiliations with regional societies and establishing local training programs in the future.

 

In 2007, Dr. Ruby Manalastas, took over the reins of the society which had now increased its membership to twenty-six. The symposium was brought back to Manila in its 4th iteration. Efforts to consolidate the earlier gains continued.

 

In 2008, the society was privileged to have been graced by the presence of an acknowledged pioneer in sleep medicine, Dr. Christian Guilleminault who delivered a Master Lecture at the Shangri La Makati.

 

In 2009, Dr. Mike Sarte, an otorhinolaryngologist, was elected as the fifth president of the society. The 5th Sleep symposium was again held in Manila. At this time, the membership had reached thirty. The groundwork for accreditation of sleep laboratories was initiated at this time.

 

In 2011, the reins of the society returned to a neurologist, Dr. Rosalina Espiritu. Her term saw the institution of the Sleep Research forum, the 1st and 2nd of which were held at the St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City and Lung Center of the Philippines respectively.

The year 2012 saw the 2nd strategic planning held at Shangri La Mactan. The year 2013 began with the 7th sleep symposium at the Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay, where a noted Filipino sleep specialist, Dr. Teofilo Lee Chiong was a featured speaker. At this time, Dr. Albert Rafanan, a pulmonologist, was elected as the society’s seventh president.

 

The year 2013 saw the formation of the accreditation and specialty boards. At this time, the Lung Center of the Philippines and Philippine Heart Center applied for accreditation. The first Basic Skills Sleep Tech Workshop was held at the Union Bank Plaza in August which has 67 attendees.

The first specialty board exam was conducted in October 20, 2013 with seven out of nine examinees successfully hurdling the test. This ushered in a new era of growth in the society’s membership.

 

The 8th sleep symposium was held on March 14-15, 2014 with Drs. Guilleminault and Lee Chiong adding the international flavor to the local faculty. This symposium had an impressive attendance of over 200 participants. The 2nd specialty board exam was administered in October. At this time, Dr. Virginia Delos Reyes, another pulmonologist took over the leadership of the society.

 

The year 2015 promises to be another groundbreaking milestone in the society’s history with a multispecialty guideline on obstructive sleep apnea going through the pipeline. After 13 years, this adolescent society is certainly wide awake and not sleeping on the job.