What an honour it is to come to this exotic Miyazaki Island in this wonderful country of Japan. I bring to you warm greetings and felicitations from 22 APLAR countries ranging from Iraq/Syria in the West to Japan/New Zealand in the East. APLAR is most proud that Japan is a leading and outstanding member of the APLAR community of nations. This is a significant year for APLAR. We are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of APLAR. We find no better occasion or location to make this announcement from the outstanding platform of the GARN Conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen, 3.7 billion people reside in APLAR countries; some highly developed, some economically prosperous and some developing nations. Rheumatology as a science and practice is firmly established in most APLAR member countries, including developing nations. There are highly qualified well-trained rheumatologists available who enjoy adequate practical laboratory support and are given to good therapeutics. There are centres of excellence where good education and training in rheumatology is imparted.
Yet, there are some countries that are not yet members of APLAR and in which organised rheumatology centres hardly exist. It is the aim of APLAR today to undertake and help initiate rheumatology services in these countries. This is an ambitious and onerous task that we have undertaken. Exactly a year from now APLAR will hold its outstanding International Congress in Rheumatology in the picturesque Jeju Island in South Korea. We promise you an innovative, creative, stimulating scientific programme replete with warm hospitality. Do come to the APLAR Congress in South Korea in September 2004 – you will never ever regret it. The GARN Conference is certain to generate new data, new ideas with the plethora of brilliant scientists assembled under one roof here. We have come to learn a lot and to develop positive ideas into an action programme in the APLAR region. This is precisely why I am here to take away a message of advances in science and to give this message of cooperation and goodwill to the brilliant success of this GARN Conference. MAY PEACE AND HARMONY PREVAIL. MAY GOD BLESS US ALL.