IAPCON 2021: A Successful Virtual Conference

Categories: Education and Featured.

Putting an end to all uncertainties and apprehensions, IAPCON 2021, an online conference, began with the active participation of over 400 delegates from various parts of India as well as from 20  other countries. This is the first time in the 28 years of IAPCON, the Annual International Conference of the IAPC (IAPCON2021) is being conducted virtually.

The conference was inaugurated at the venue,  All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Patna. Prof. Prabhat Kumar Singh, Director, AIIMS Patna, lit the lamp to inaugurate the conference. Dr N R Biswas, Director, IGIMS Patna, Dr L B Singh, Medical Superintendent, Mahavir Cancer Sansthan,  Dr C M Singh, Medical Superintendent, AIIMS Patna,  Dr Umesh Kumar Badhanai, Secretary, Organising Committee,  and  Dr Chandni Sinha, Secretary, Scientific Committee were also present on the dias during the  inaugural ceremony. Dr Sushma Bhatnagar, President, IAPC and Dr Savita Butola, Secretary, IAPC participated in the inaugural function virtually.  Dr Bhatnagar and Dr Butola congratulated the organizing team for a successful launch of the  conference.

‘Touching Heart Gently’, a book written by  a palliative care physician  and faculty, Dr Priyadarshini Kulkarni, was released in the function. Dr Kulkarni has been working in the field of Palliative Medicine for the past 20 years, and this book  is a collection of 29 true stories based on her patient care experience.

The scientific sessions of the conference were held from 4 to 8 PM and included insightful and captivating sessions on  Pain, Kidney  Supportive Care, Palliative Nursing, and Spiritual Care.  Day-1 of the conference concluded with a session on the  Evaluation of IAPC’s  Certificate Course in Essentials of Palliative Care.

“ There were apprehensions about the virtual mode. But we did   Day-1 successfully. It was a great start with a session on Pain. More than 300 participants were present at any given point of time.  Thank you my dear friends and colleagues for making this happen”-said Dr Bhatnagar, in her statement as she   congratulated all those  who were involved with and supported this initiative.

“A large number of delegates attended the inaugural ceremony and scientific sessions. The academic content of the lectures covered advances in different areas and shared latest developments. The pre- conference workshop was conducted in a ‘hybrid’ manner(both online and offline). There were 85 delegates present in the class room session held  at AIIMS Patna, and 50 delegates participated virtually. It is a huge success,  “ expressed  Dr Umesh Kumar Badani, Secretary, Organising Committee.

Indeed, it is a proud moment for Dr Badani and his team to have  launched  the program  successfully, despite  the  challenges  imposed by the COVID_19 pandemic.

Day-1 of the conference had Sessions  on:


Dr Sushma Bhatnagar, Head, Department of Onco Anaesthesia and Palliative Care , AIIMS, New Delhi (President, IAPC) was the theme leader of the first session on Pain. Dr Srinivasa Raja (John Hopkins University, USA), Dr Lukas Radbruch (University of Bonn, Germany),  and Dr Andrew S C Rice (Imperial College, London), were the speakers.

Kidney and Supportive Care

Dr Pankaj Singhai, Asst Professor, Department of Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal was the theme leader for the session on Kidney Supportive Care. The  one hour session was covered by 3 eminent faculties from India and Australia,  from the  field of  Kidney Supportive Care.

Dr Nandini Vallath (Palliative Care Physicians, Mumbai) shared the story of how Palliative Nephrology in India was born and the journey so far. Her presentation revealed the symptom burden of patients with Chronic Kidney Disease in India and the unmet need of palliative care in this area.

Dr Amanda Siriwandana (St. George Hospital, Sydney), a young nephrologist with special interest in Renal Supportive Care presented her study. She highlighted the need to integrate Kidney supportive care with Nephrology so that complex symptoms in renal patients could be effectively managed. Dr Frank Brennan, an eminent palliative care physician from Sydney concluded the session where he briefly explained the taste changes in patients with Chronic Kidney Disease and evidence based management.

This one hour session on Kidney and Supportive Care aimed to improve the awareness on the need for  Palliative Care for patients with kidney diseases, as well as to develop collaborative research and education in this field in India,” said Dr  Singhai, the theme leader of this session. “Kidney Supportive care services are expanding globally. I am sure this session would have inspired many for initiating similar service here ” added Dr Singhai.

Palliative Nursing

Sr. Hanife Mac Gamwell, Hon. Head, ELNEC, India, was the theme leader for this session. Faculty included Dr Betty Ferrel, Principal Investigator of ELNEC, Dr Julia Downing, Executive Director, ICPCN, and Mr. Ratish Nair Head Nursing College, AIIMS, Patna.

The session primarily focused on Education, practice and challenges in Palliative Care Nursing. Speakers highlighted the imminent need for to provide role clarity for palliative care nurses, within the healthcare framework, much like what is available for nurses from other specialties. The session concluded with the panel unanimously consenting towards empowering palliative care nurses and also providing leadership roles for PC nurses to improve the quality of care developed.


Dr . Nagesh Simha, Medical Direcor, Karunashraya , Bangalore and Dr.  Vidya Viswanat, , Asst. Professor, HBCH&RC, Visakhapatnam were the theme leaders for the segment  on Spirituality. The speakers from the session covered different aspects of spiritual care and its importance.

“Dr  Christina Puchalski a pioneer and the Director, George Washington University of Spirituality and Health, gave an overview on how spiritual care gained  importance.

Dr  Fiona Rawilnson, Cardiff, UK, shared her vast experience in teaching spirituality and the challenges she overcame while doing so.  She also threw light on the differences between religion and spirituality.

Dr Seema Rao shared  an excellent overview of the array of  issues  she had to encounter while working with patients in the context of COVID-19.

“It will be very useful for our doctors. But our doctors need to be given more information about what spirituality and spiritual care are” said  Dr Nagesh Simha, one of the theme leaders of the session.

Dr Vidya Viswanathan, another  theme leader from the  session, emphasized  the critical need  to develop a tool for spiritual assessment which is  relevant to the Indian context. “May be through IAPC, we can work out a multi -centric study on addressing spiritual concerns”- she suggested.

Virtual Vs Physical Conference

Delegates Opinion

Dr Singhai expressed apprehensions towards online conferences and mentioned that he prefers a hybrid model. “A physical conference is needed for better collaboration among people as it leaves a better impact on attendees. However, in some circumstances, delegates are unable to travel and attend physically. In such cases, they should get the opportunity to participate virtually and  have  access to recorded sessions with the option to share their doubts and questions to  faculty,” says Dr Singhai as he elaborates his view.

“As far as the virtual conference is concerned, it does not excite me; I am so used to physical meetings,” says Dr. Nagesh Simha , Medical Director, Karunashraya . He also shared the opinion that  the scientific committee had done its best!

The three day conference will be concluded on Sunday 21st March 2021.



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