In Uruguay, paediatric palliative care was recently started. Even though there is a national law that establishes the right for receiving palliative care for every citizen in the country, official data from the Public Health Minister says that only 3% of children receive palliative care.
Currently, during the last five years, there are palliative care paediatric services in two of 19 departments in the country, but few professionals have the basic knowledge and skills to support children with life threatening conditions and their families during the illness.
This lack of trained professionals to deliver palliative care is the most important barrier to the development of this field in Uruguay.
To address this situation, in 2011 we implemented a mandatory paediatric palliative care introductory course for all paediatric residents. It is a two-month course followed by a three-week rotation in the paediatric palliative care unit of the Pereira Rossell Hospital Center. This has been an important achievement.
We are involved in other educational challenges such as the systematic introduction of palliative care in the curriculum in the school of medicine and the diffusion of the palliative care strategies to professionals already involved in the care of children in different parts of the country, outside the capital city of Montevideo. Being responsible for these clinical and educational projects is a challenge.
The IAHPC scholarship to attend the ALCP Conference made it possible for me to meet and share experiences, challenges and clinical and educational “know how” with some in the Latin American paediatric palliative care community. It also provided me an opportunity to come in contact palliative care leaders in Latin America and the world; to learn and be inspired by their experiences and teachings and to learn how others include palliative care education in their schools of medicine and beyond. This will help us to develop a strategy in Uruguay.