After months of anticipation, Wednesday 18 May officially marked the start of the 2nd ICPCN Conference in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. Various pre-conference workshops were held throughout the day. The informative workshops included Principles of Children’s Palliative Care, Developing Programmes, Ethics or decision making and Pain Management.
The full day workshop on Pain Management was held in the main auditorium of the conference centre with simultaneous translation in both English and Spanish and was very well attended, with experts from around the world providing an excellent spectrum of presentations and case studies around the topic of recognising and treating a child’s pain. Lead by Dr Stefan Friedrichsdorf, the other world class presenters included Dr Ross Drake from New Zealand,, Dr Alison Twycross from the UK, Dr Mercedes Bernada from Uruguay and Dr Veronica Dussel from Argentina. The workshop looked at various ways of measuring pain, the biophysics of pain and the best ways to treat pain in children.
The ethics or decision making workshop was run by experts Dr Richard Hain, Dr María Susana Ciruzzi, Fr. Rick Bauer and Dr Yuriko Nakashima. Attendees were divided into groups and analysed different cases where the child, parent or healthcare worker was faced with difficult ethical decisions. These case studies opened the floor for an informative presentation by Dr Hain. He discussed various issues including who should speak for the child, why parents are approached for ethical decisions and why their views are important and lastly the Paediatric Advanced Care plan. Dr Hain emphasized that, “the purpose of advance care planning is to provide script, record and a way of disseminating explorations to people that need to know,” he also stressed that although parent’s views are important, they cannot refuse treatment that is in their child’s interest.
‘Palliative Care for adolescents’ was a full day workshop presented by Dr Marianne Phillips, Dr Teresa Mendez and Dr Eulalia Lascar. Important statistics and challenges in adolescent palliative care were highlighted. It was revealed that early introduction of palliative care relieved suffering in adolescents with cancer, 25% of adolescents diagnosed with cancer will die and 80% of adolescents dying from cancer need opioid analgesics. It was highlighted that many adolescents with life-limiting conditions battle with loneliness, identity and self-confidence. Important aspects such as spirituality and sexuality are often neglected in the care of these children.
‘Developing progammes’ was an interactive session led by Dr Pradnya Talawadekar, Dr Lyn Gould and Anna Garchakova. The presenters shared tips, thoughts and challenges they faced in developing programmes in India, Belarus and China. The importance of advocacy and building a strong team to lead the programme was emphasized by the presenters. Lyn Gould closed the session on a positive note, encouraging participants and giving them a sense of hope, she said “remember your end goal, but also remember you won’t start there, don’t get discouraged.”