As Behavioral Medicine is Becoming More Global It Should Become More Regional as Well

Professor Dr. Antti Uutela, Ph.D.
President, International Society of Behavioral Medicine (ISBM), and
National Public Health Institute (KTL), Finland

             Behavioral medicine is at present more global than ever; this we see, e.g., when we examine national background of authors submitting papers to the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine (IJBM) and have a look at the whereabouts of participants of the International Congresses of Behavioral Medicine (ICBM's). ISBM has been gaining in the organizational strength also. Since 1990 with 6 constituent societies, ISBM has grown into an organization of 25 full members, 2 affiliates and a few emerging member societies. It is my prediction that the growth will continue in the years to come but this will not happen automatically - we must work for it. Behavioral medicine emerged as a science in the U.S. where it has advanced strongly both in basic research and clinical applications leading, e.g., to the development of national societies with a large number of members. What strengths behavioral medicine may have stem from its inclusion of all relevant scientific disciplines and from its attempt to integrate various fields of medicine and findings of behavioral and social science. In the last decade behavioral medicine has witnessed an expansion into the social, political and economic realms to balance the early strongly bio-behavioral picture. A major geographic organizational membership change has also occurred and that change needs to carry on. It is remarkable that Europe now has 12 member societies in ISBM representing almost all European regions (excluding the Russian Federation). As already stated the geographic development of ISBM needs to go on. The progress that has already been achieved in the Asian Pacific and Latin American regions needs to be fortified. Hopefully in not too distant future we will witness an awakening of behavioral medicine in the rest of Asia and Africa as well. I am sure that this Thai/Asian Regional Conference shall contribute significantly to the national and regional health promotion. Challenges that have already been tackled in the previous Thai/Regional conferences include, e.g., community development to help the children mature healthy, rehabilitation of drug addicts, using spiritual wisdom in health promotion, and performing infectious disease control are topics that have required lots of attention and yielded valuable information to share. We all then can look forward to the three interesting conference days that are ensuing.