Report on the ICPCN 2014 conference published in ecancer journal

Categories: Education.

ecancer medical science, the open access cancer journal from the European Institute of Oncology and the OECI has published a paper on the recent ICPCN Conference 2014 that was held in Mumbai, India from 10 – 12 February 2014.  The paper, authored by Prof Julia Downing and her associates, gives a detailed description of the conference and the background to the reason for the conference being held in India. 

Some interesting facts from the report include: 

  • The conference, Transforming Children’s Palliative Care – From ideas to action was the first conference to be hosted by the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) and was attended by delegates from 38 countries. 
  • The conference was held in conjunction with the Tata Memorial Centre, one of India’s leading cancer hospitals serving approximately 43 000 government and private patients annually from all over India and neighbouring countries. The Centre’s palliative care unit opened in 1996 and has seen over 15 000 patients, including children, since this time. The children’s palliative care services were begun in 2001.
  • The Children’s Palliative Care Project in India was initiated in the Maharashtra district by the Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC) and is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through Help the Hospices, with tactical support from the ICPCN. 

The report goes on to describe the pre-conference workshops, one for doctors, one for nurses and one for social workers and volunteers which were held on Sunday 9 February and were well received by those who attended. Participants rated the courses as good or very good (on a five-point Likert scale) in terms of usefulness to their own work situation.

At the Inaugural Ceremony, held in the evening of the first day, Mr Suresh Shetty, Minister of Health and Family Welfare from the Government of Maharashtra, stated his support for a further roll our of children’s palliative care throughout the state of Maharashtra in recognition of the excellent work being done by the team based at Tata Memorial Centre. 

In the stimulating plenary sessions, Dr Stephen LIben reminded delegates of the need for mindfulness in their practice, while Prof Muckaden and Dr RIchard Hain looked at the important topic of ethical decision making in children’s palliative care the Prof Myra Bluebond Langner discussed the importance of using research to transform practice saying that we need to utilise the findings of research while always being mindful of different cultural and contextual factors. 

A highlight of the conference was the gala dinner with the theme of a traditional Indian wedding feast. This celebration included the painting of intricate henna designs on the hands of the women guests and the wearing of turbans for the men. DUring the festivities, which included traditional dancing and singing, the award winning Bollywood actor, Kunal Kapoor, arrived as a surprise guest and in praise of the work that is being done in children’s palliative care in his country and worldwide said “I couldn’t think of anything more important than to give comfort and support to these children and their families.”

A talk on neonatal and prenatal palliative care by Dr Rut Kiman and on access to opioids by Dr Jim Cleary on the last day of the conference left delegates with much to think about. 

Running as a thread throughout the conference, delegates were treated to a selection of previews of the ‘Little Stars’ series of short films, expertly filmed and directed by Mike and Sue HIll of Moonshine Movies. These short films featured stories of children and young adults and their families benefitting from palliative care. 

The report also covers some of the topics covered by the breakout sessions and the applied workshops that were held throughout the three days of the conference.

The conference was not only a wonderful opportunity to learn and to network, it provided delegates with a rich cultural experience and an appreciation of the extremely warm welcome provided by their Indian hosts. 

You can read the full report in the ecancer journal by clicking here.