The pre-conference sessions consisted of the African Palliative Care Research Network workshop, and a meeting with representatives of Ministries of Health from South Africa, Swaziland, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, DRC, Mozambique and Malawi.
A workshop hosted by the African Palliative Care Research Network was well-attended, with standing room only by the end of the first session.
Prof Lukas Radbruch commented on the excellent support of the workshop, noting that this pointed to the interest in doing palliative care research in Africa.
Dr Emanuel Luriyika , co-chair of the conference organizing committee and Chief Executive Officer of APCA, opened the workshop, calling for productive collaboration for palliative care research in Africa. His co-chair, Dr Liz Gwyther, Chief Executive of HPCA, commented on the importance of research for patient and family outcomes, and emphasized the need to sensitize ethical review boards to the vital importance of palliative care research.
Eve Namisango, research manager at APCA, noted the importance of strategic, sustainable collaborations, and reminded delegates that research with children should not be neglected.
The session continued with a lively presentation by Prof Scott Murray from Edinburgh University on how to get research published in a scientific journal, as well as a snapshot of what research has been done in Africa, presented by Prof Lukas Radbruch and A.Prof Richard Harding.
The afternoon session took the form of group work, focussed around research priorities, and ended with a discussion of the workshop themes and planning for the way forward.
Ministers of Health Session:
High-level African Ministry of Health representatives met to address palliative care integration in Africa.
Ahead of the session, Dr Luriyika, said: “This being the first ever palliative care session for health ministers in Africa, it is a strategic turning point in the effort to reduce suffering among patients with with life-limiting illnesses as Africa moves towards entrenching palliative care into health systems.”
Dr Gwyther commented: “We are highly appreciative of the health ministers’ recognition of the importance of palliative care. This historic meeting has the potential to make a difference to millions of people in Africa suffering with advanced illness, improving their quality of life and providing freedom from pain. We especially thank our Deputy Minister for her support in hosting this meeting.”
Look out for full coverage of the ministers’ session a well as a report from the press conference on ehospice, as well as daily articles rounding up conference proceedings.
A highlight of the opening ceremony was the lifetime achievement award. Prof Anne Merriman, Kath Defilippi and- in absentia- Dr Faith Mwangi-Powell were honoured for their pioneering work in palliative care in Africa.
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