A History of ACMA

By Drs Wilson Young, Linda Lum, Paul Cheng and Adrian Wan. Edited by Dr Carlos Lam.

On 22 June 1988, twenty-two registered medical practitioners of Chinese descent gathered in the home of Dr Gam Lee to discuss the formation of an association. The first clinical meeting was held on 13 November 1988 at the Mandarin Szechuan restaurant in Birkenhead. The topic was Parkinson's Disease. The first executive committee was elected and the first newsletter was published in January 1989.

Education and Research

Education and research has been the primary focus of ACMA. Clinical meetings gradually incorporated cultural talks on Asian society. In 1994, ACMA gained approved Continual Medical Education (CME) provider status and started providing CME points. ACMA also ran CPR sessions and informal workshops. ACMA set up an Elective Scholarship to be presented to a worthy final year student to assist in funding their trainee intern elective. Student career evenings were also held to expose students to doctors practising in different fields. Various research projects were supported over the years such as in mental health, atherosclerosis in Chinese, and Hepatitis B. Recent years have seen studentships exploring terminations in pregnant Asian women, a particularly pertinent topic given the rapid growth of the international student market. Executive members wrote submissions to the Abortion Supervisory Committee and the Health Professional Competency Assurance Bill. ACMA also provided input into the Hepatitis Screening Programme. Our Inaugural Scientific Conference was held at the Carlton Hotel in 1998 with subsequent ones held on a biennial basis.

Community Events

Public education has also been another important activity. ACMA has held multiple Health Fairs over the years, including stalls at several Chinese New Year fairs checking blood pressures, blood sugars and body mass indices (BMIs). We have also provided medical back-up for the New Zealand Chinese Association Easter Sports  Tournament. ACMA funded Chinese radio health talks and provided lists of doctors with Chinese language skills. Translations of patient education pamphlets on tuberculosis, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease were also undertaken. ACMA donated to the Hamilton Chinese Gardens project.

Overseas Links

ACMA joined the Australasian Council of Chinese Medical Associations (ACCMA) as a foundation member. We also have contacts with the Federation of Chinese American and Chinese Canadian Medical Societies. In recent years, ACMA hosted the Chinese Minister of Health, various visiting health officials and medical scholars.

ACMA also presented a submission to the Medical Practitioners Bill and has hosted joint activities with the Indian Medical Association.

New Initiatives

2002 was notable for the formation of Young ACMA (YACMA) partly in response to the pharmaceutical climate and a desire to provide more student-oriented activities.

In 2003 as YACMA grew, we watched on as proud parents. ACMA also launched a website and started sending newsletters and invitations through cyberspace to our members.

The changing social climate also led to the Constitution being revised in 2009.

From this point onwards, ACMA has built on its past successes of education of its members and the education of the public through regular involvement with Chinese language health talks.

Most recently in 2013, our members (Dr Derek Luo, Dr Andrew To and Dr Paul Cheng) have started a new project: CHAINZ - Chinese Health Awareness Initiative New Zealand.  The goal is to reach out to the Chinese population in New Zealand, raising public health awareness.  The CHAINZ working group, by working in conjunction with World TV (a national Chinese multimedia company based in Auckland), has been arranging a roster of medical and allied health speakers to go on an established LIVE TV talk show programme that is accessible to all viewers within NZ (via Freeview) on a weekly basis.

Much of this would not be possible without the tireless hours donated by members of the Executive, some of whom have been members since the Foundation years. They dedicate precious evenings and weekends to organising the CME meetings, community events and other activities under the ACMA banner. We have since also updated our website to reflect the changing times.

If our history stimulates your interest in contributing to the Association, please join our organization and volunteer your time and ideas when we run major events, or perhaps even consider standing for election for the Executive at our next Annual General Meeting.