20 October 2021

Meeting Report: The 2nd Swiss-Kyrgyz High Altitude Medicine and Research Symposium in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic, 18 - 22, September 2021

About the Symposium

Due to the Covid pandemic, the symposium, originally scheduled for September 2020, was postponed for one year and moved to a new location, the Khan Tengri Hotel in Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic. Despite these changes and the difficulties of the pandemic, the Task Force was very happy to report that the Symposium was very successful. Attendance exceeded all expectations, and the entire event ran smoothly as planned. The congress site offered an ideal atmosphere and infrastructure for the main scientific sessions and group discussions.

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In addition to providing an ideal environment for the scientific sessions, it also facilitated group discussions. Participants had high praise for the accessibility, the food, and the lodging. The Annual Congress of Kyrgyz Thoracic Society was held from September 16-18 in Naryn, making it possible for many participants to attend both meetings.

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Attendance

There was a wide international representation of attendees from diverse countries including 37 invited speakers, researchers and physicians from Kyrgyzstan and neighbouring countries. Over the course of 5 days the symposium attracted between 80 to 130 participants from diverse countries, including Switzerland, Kyrgyz Republic, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, UK, Kazakhstan, Austria, France, Russia, to name a few.  

 
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Programme overview

On day 1, participants visited the department of respiratory medicine at Bishkek's National Center of Cardiology and Internal Medicine. The researchers and clinicians visiting the centre were impressed by the highly skilled and motivated staff, the well-organised laboratories and clinical facilities, and the array of scientific and clinical activities taking placeThis site visit provided solid foundation for future discussions on international research cooperation.

The 2nd day was devoted to research and educational seminars on topics in (patho)physiology, general internal medicine, cardiology, respirology, and infectious diseases. These lectures provided updates on the latest scientific research as well as state-of-the-art insights. The day ended with a photo exhibition and a video presentation of projects and expeditions sponsored by the Swiss-Kyrgyz High Altitude Medicine and Research Initiative.

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Lectures on day 3 covered recent research data on molecular mechanisms of physiological responses to hypoxia, priority issues and trends in medicine, as well as health challenges in remote and high-altitude areas such as prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. The two complementary hybrid (virtual and on-site) sessions resulted in a great deal of international collaboration. The day concluded with the Opening Ceremony including welcome addresses by representatives of the Kyrgyz national and regional government including representation from the Minister of Health, and by leaders of academic and medical institutions. Interactions and networking among participants were strengthened by the gala dinner.

On day 4, the lectures focused on the hot topics on current research in the fields of high altitude medicine, the cardiovascular system including the pulmonary circulation, control of breathing, sleep in adults and children, and exercise in normoxic, hyperoxic and hypoxic conditions. A visit to the local community hospital in Naryn provided the opportunity to discuss with local clinicians and get an impression of the restrictions of health care resources in a rural areas. An evening session featured a video report on the Swiss women's climbing expedition in Kyrgyzstan at very high altitudes.

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The Symposium concluded on day 5, with discussions on essential aspects of clinical trials and future research protocols. The symposium ended with farewell addresses and a positive outlook on future meetings.

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Conclusion

The 2nd Swiss-Kyrgyz High Altitude Medicine and Research Symposium was a great success, with plenty of participation, scientific exchange, setting priorities for future research, developing research protocols and networking among international groups. Tremendous feedback was received from all participants and invited speakers who enjoyed the experience. Similar Symposia will be held regularly between 2-3 yearly intervals.

We thank all sponsors of this event for their generous contribution.

Organizers: Talant M. Sooronbaev, Konrad E. Bloch, Silvia Ulrich, Michael Furian, Norbert Weissmann & Max Gassmann

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