Associate professor Richard Harding, from the Cicely Saunders Institute at Kings College, London, said: “I was struck by the way that people are still battling to provide quality palliative care with limited resources. In spite of this there is still a huge commitment among delegates to integrate research into their planning and practice. That should be commended.
“The presentation that affected me the most was delivered by the South African Department of Correctional Facilities and HPCA on the roll out of palliative care to prison inmates and the integration of the POS to measure outcomes.”
Malik Jaffer, senior technical advisor for USAID in South Africa, co-hosted an excellent talk-show style workshop with Shelley Enarson, AP CA communications manager, asking a panel of experts: “How can we market the concept of palliative care?”
Malik reflected on this year’s conference and the progress in the field over the past three years: “Palliative care in Africa has been elevated in the last three years. We are engaging at such a different level, practically and conceptually. At the last conference, the talk was all about how to do service delivery better, now we are focussing on how to integrate palliative care into health systems, into social systems, we are engaging ministers of health. We are talking about how to change the way that palliative care is conceived and the way it engages global health.”
Dr Paul Pili Pili, spoke about the need to develop palliative care in Francophone African countries, saying: “For the DRC, we are coming from a French-speaking country. The reality is that palliative care has gone very far in English-speaking countries. This conference is a good opportunity to learn from our colleagues in other countries.
“I have realised that our leaders need to develop palliative care in Africa, and especially in the DRC.”
The conference ended with a gala dinner, with delegates resplendent in their traditional formal wear. Vicky Sampson entertained the crowd with the most incredible singing, and Dr Joe O’Neill and Prof Harding took to the dance floor together to the delight of the other delegates.
Speaking at the gala dinner, Steve Hynd, APCA’s Communications Officer, said: “What struck me about the conference was just how close so many of the delegates are. Watching delegates dancing, joking and chatting together, it gave me the feeling of a family reunion. Everyone is connected through an unspoken bond – palliative care. As with all families though, there are also unspoken traumas that rest just beneath the surface. Part of the strength of this family though is that palliative care gives each member the opportunity to be able to share these traumas and then to support each other. As a result there has been a magical atmosphere at the conference that I haven’t experienced anywhere else.”
Look out for photographs of this memorable conference in the days to come.