With an impressive line-up of international speakers, only the second international children’s palliative care conference to be held in the country, is facilitating the exchange of knowledge, innovative ideas, research and experiences in the field of children’s hospice and palliative care.
Themed “Inspiration, Innovation, Integration”, the event brings together local and international medical and health care and allied professionals who make up the inter-disciplinary team providing care for children with rare and complex, life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. Local conference partners include the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa (HPCA), Palliative Treatment for Children in South Africa (PatchSA) and the Durban based charity, Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children.
A full day of pre-conference workshops took place on 30 May which included a workshop on the effective treatment of pain in children, led by Dr Satbir Jassal (MBE), chair and editor of the Association for Paediatric Palliative Medicine (APPM) Master Formulary.
The conference programme is made up of plenary and break-away sessions covering issues relevant to doctors, nurses, psychologists, researchers, counsellors, social workers, spiritual leaders, educators and therapists. Family members and those who volunteer within the field are also catered for.
Delegates heard from acclaimed speakers Sister Frances Dominica OBE, DL, FRCN, FRCPCH, founder of Helen & Douglas House, the world’s first children’s hospice; Kelly du Plessis, Founder and CEO of Rare Diseases South Africa; Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, KwaZulu Natal Health MEC and Dr Marie-Charlotte Bouesseau who is an adviser at the department of service delivery and safety at the World Health Organisation.
The conference will also host the very first showing of the acclaimed film ‘Hippocratic: 18 Experiments in Gently Shaking the World’ featuring Dr MR Rajagopal who is a current Nobel Peace Prize nominee. The documentary is for all those interested in the power of the human spirit, human rights and social justice. It is essential viewing for anyone working in health care, medicine, nursing and public health.
Sue Boucher, ICPCN Director of Communications and Chair of the Local Organising Committee, said “The national policy for palliative care, which includes care for children, has been approved for adoption by the South African National Health Council. The ICPCN strongly believes that this conference will make a vital contribution to building a positive and enduring legacy of informed healthcare and other professionals, empowered with the knowledge and skills to further develop children’s palliative care provision within the province of KZN and in South Africa. It is only through this kind of event, coupled with continued mentoring, that we will reach the many thousands of children in our country in urgent need of this specialised care.”
Research published in 2013 and carried out by ICPCN in collaboration with UNICEF revealed that an estimated 801,155 babies, children and adolescents in South Africa have an illness or condition likely to shorten their lives, with 304,441 of these requiring specialised palliative care services, due to a terminal diagnosis. These conditions include but are not limited to genetic conditions, cancers, HIV and AIDs, kidney failure and diseases of the heart and lungs.
With very few children’s palliative care services presently operating in the country, the research further revealed that less than 5% of these affected children can access appropriate palliative care services. Palliative care ensures a good quality of life and minimises pain and suffering. The ICPCN is the only international charity dedicated to securing the rights of these children to receive hospice and palliative care.
For more information visit the conference website at www.icpcnconference.org