Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, the Executive Director of the African Palliative Care Association, highlighted the disproportionate disease burden in Africa and the impact that this has had on palliative care provision in Africa. Speaking at the International Issues ‘Challenge Panel’ Dr Emmanuel said, “Africa has, on average, less than half the number of nurses per patient ratio than the rest of the world. This has a great impact on palliative care provision. Nurses are the backbone of Africa’s health care. If you remove them, the system collapses.”
Dr Zipporah Ali, the Executive Director of Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA), also speaking on the panel, commented that the number of Kenyan health care professionals leaving the country remains a significant problem in providing palliative care in Kenya.
There were however, also lots of successes to celebrate. Dr Emmanuel highlighted the considerable successes that countries in Africa have seen over recent years including the recently signed Minsters of Health “Consensus statement for palliative care integration into health systems in Africa: ‘Palliative Care for Africa’.” The statement commits the signatures to, among others commitments, “The integration of palliative care services into national health budgets to ensure sustainable services.”
The conference was also attended by Dr Liz Gwyther, the CEO of the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa, who spoke at a workshop on providing palliative care for prison populations. Speaking at the conference Dr Liz said, “South Africa has a developed a model of partnerships with Correctional Services that ensures a cooperative relationship between prisons and hospices. It involves training and mentoring the health personnel at Correctional Services.”
She continued, “This model has helped change a cycle of violence to a culture of compassion within our prisons.”
Delegates from across Canada warmly welcomed the international delegate’s contributions. Rick Firth, the Executive Director Hospice Palliative Care Ontario, tweeted saying,
— Rick Firth (@rick_HPCO) November 3, 2013
Sharon Baxter, the CEO of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, commented, “We feel incredibly privileged to have so many delegates from across Africa at our conference. Having them here is a wonderful opportunity for us to learn about the challenges that our colleagues are facing but significantly, also the imaginative ways that these challenges are overcome.”
She continued, “We have learnt so much from the innovation coming from Africa. It’s a two-way collaborative street that ultimately benefits patients both here in Canada but also across Africa.”
Delegates from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa attended the conference.