5th International Public Health & Palliative Care Conference

Categories: Community Engagement.

September saw the 5th International Public Health and Palliative Care conference take place in Ottawa, Ontario.  Participants at the conference explored topics including health promoting palliative care, public health and palliative care, and the compassionate communities movement.  The hope is that this event will encourage participants from around the world to continue advocating for the building of public policies that support dying, death, loss and grief; creating supportive environments (in particular social supports); strengthening community action; encouraging re-orientation of  the health system.  


On September 18th a Compassionate Community Forum was held which looked at what has been done in Ottawa, and other regions. The Compassionate Community movement recognises that care for one another at times of crisis and loss is not simply a task solely for health and social services but is everyone’s responsibility.


The conference included several themes including “Building Public Policies that Support Health”, “Creating participatory community partnerships”,  “strengthening sustainable community partnerships”, and  “Evaluation and performance”, “Reorienting /engaging environments to be responsive to death dying loss and bereavement”

The main take-home messages from the conference are:

  • Don’t normalize  – Socialize
  • Rethinking what ‘capacity’ means – reorientation is best integrated into the culture. Funding rarely changes culture.
  • We have put too many of our eggs in the healthcare basket and left the community behind, we need to think like social activists
  • Social capital via bridging and linking
  • Compassionate neighbours-Hiring community workers who are community development experts
  • Basically bonded is between people who are similar and is the classic network of close friends supporting people. Bridging is across difference in community, e.g. age, ethnicity and is increasingly being seen as a means by which disadvantaged communities can begin to build a broader base of capacity in a community etc.
  • Linking is between an institution and the local community, so across explicit power hierarchies. Trust is crucial here and  reciprocity can also act across this relationship. Linking social capital is thought to be essential for communities to take control over their own health, as they can begin influencing those organizations that serve them.


Quick facts about #PHP17:

  • Participants from 33 countries
  • 300 delegates and community members attended conference events
  • There were participants from 16 low- and middle-income countries
  • 14 scholarships  were awarded to participants via International Association of Hospice Palliative care ( IAHPC)
  • The conference generated 2,486 tweets  from 437 participants and partners
  • The conference held 5 plenary sessions, 50 workshops and presentations, 40 posters; 8 fireside chats… and 5 Canada toques!!

The next International Public Health and Palliative Care Conference will be held in Australia in 2019. For more information, please visit: www.iphpc2017.com