The 6th International African Palliative Care Conference 2019

Categories: Care, Education, Featured, and Research.

The triennial 6th International African Palliative Care Conference took place from 17-20 Sept 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda with the theme “Palliative Care and Universal Health Coverage”.

Co-hosted by the African Palliative Care Association and the Ministry of Health in Rwanda, the conference is easily the biggest palliative care gathering on the continent, and provides an advocacy and reporting opportunity for delegates from all stakeholder groups including government representatives, civil society organisations, patient advocacy and donor agencies.

Patient voices

The 6th conference was unique in the way users of palliative care services and beneficiaries took centre stage, giving a voice to this often overshadowed but critical stakeholder group. They highlighted ways in which UHC and specifically palliative care services can uphold basic human rights in cost-effective and timely interventions in Africa, based on their personal journeys with life-threatening illnesses.

Representatives from different countries used the conference as a platform to share progress on their implementation of the May 2014 World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution on Palliative Care, the May 2017 WHA Resolution on Cancer, and the 2012 African Union (AU) Common Position on Controlled Substances and Access to Pain Medications. Progress may be slow, but it is certainly there!

Effective engagement

Lively deliberations focused on understanding trends, sharing lessons and best practices in palliative care in Africa and globally, with specific emphasis on palliative care’s inclusion as an integral component of UHC. Research evidence on appropriate interventions that can enable Africa’s low- and medium-income countries to achieve universal access to palliative care for their populations was disseminated.

The conference was officially opened by the Minister of Health of the Republic of Rwanda, Dr Diane Gashumba, whose fellow African Ministers of Health from several African countries were in the country to attend the 3rd African Ministers of Health Session on Palliative Care that preceded the main conference.


The programme was diverse and included key note speakers from WHO (AfRO and Geneva), Amref Health, NIH (USA), The Vatican, and many others who created very engaging plenary sessions. It also included tailored workshops, such as Pain Management, Palliative Care and Spirituality, Strategic Advocacy for PC in UHC, Partnerships & Collaboration, Direct Stakeholder Voices, and Research in Palliative Care for evidence based interventions. During breaks, delegates could attend 10-minute snap shot presentations that were dotted around the venue, or visit the Global Health Summit Exhibition in the main foyer. Panel discussions also enabled more organisations and countries to share experiences from their work, and get input and feedback from participants.

On the social side, APCA hosted a gala dinner, a colourful affair attended by about 150 people that included lively music and dance from a local Rwandan dance troupe, an auction, as well as a brief talk by the guest of honour and well-renowned palliative care advocate, Dr Stephen Watiti.  This underscored the amplified voice of palliative care patients and beneficiaries whose first hand experiences as people in need of palliative care in Africa added significant weight to the call for government commitment to make budgetary provisions.

Diverse representation

A total of 400 people from 40 countries attended the conference. New partnerships were forged, and old ones strengthened. Demographics showed that delegates included general practitioners and specialists, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers, medical and nursing students, government workers, CSOs and volunteers involved in palliative care internationally. The event received significant media coverage both locally in Rwanda as well as in regional news.

Outstanding work by individuals and organisations in the development of palliative care in Africa was recognised through awards from APCA. More details on the awards are available here

7th Edition of the Conference

We look forward to welcoming you all again to the 7th International African Palliative Care Conference and 4th African Ministers of Health Session on Palliative Care in 2022!!

“We always look forward to the APCA conferences every 3 years, and I must say the 2019 conference did not disappoint!” Delegate

Further information on speakers, abstracts etc can be accessed here 

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