Indonesia to host military medicine congress

Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu

The Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that the country would host the World Congress on Military Medicine this weekend.

The ministry, which is in charge of the 41st congress, said that the congress was scheduled to take place in Bali on May 17 to 22.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is scheduled to open the congress.

The ministry expects 750 participants from 114 countries on the list of the International Committee of Military Medicine (ICMM), an international organisation based in Brussels, Belgium, that focuses on knowledge sharing on military medicine and humanitarian issues.

The congress will discuss a number of issues, including the spread of viruses, disaster mitigation and chemical, biological and nuclear hazards.

Head of the congress' steering committee, Maj. Gen. Daniel Tjen, said that Indonesia would steer the discussion toward disaster mitigation efforts.

"We will share our knowledge and experiences in disaster mitigation with other countries," Daniel told reporters in a press briefing on Wednesday at the Defence Ministry in Central Jakarta.

Daniel said that Indonesia was widely respected for its disaster management capabilities developed from its experiences in dealing with frequent disasters.

"So far, Indonesia has only gone to Germany to learn about disaster management. On account of its ongoing experiences, Indonesia should become the centre of disaster management, more specifically the centre of disaster medicine," he said.

Meanwhile, the congress' organising committee head, Brig. Gen. Terawan Agus Putranto, said that Indonesia was prepared to include more speakers at the congress.

"There will be 74 Indonesian speakers who are experts in their fields on standby," Terawan said.

Terawan said that some of the speakers would specifically address tropical disease.

"We will speak about tropical disease because we have lots of experience in dealing with it," he said.

Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu is also expected to deliver a keynote address at the congress.

Besides serving as a forum in which participants could share knowledge, the congress was also seen as form of "soft power diplomacy", a way to improve the image of the Indonesian Military worldwide, the ministry said.

"This is a good opportunity for us to show the world our military capability, especially in military medicine. We will not have an opportunity to host the congress again in the next 200 years because the ICMM has 117 member countries. We should make use of this congress," Terawan said.