The day got off to a beautiful start with a musical recital by cellist Claire Oppert ahead of the Opening Plenary.
The plenary session, entitled ‘Towards Excellence and a Global Vision’ spoke to critical concerns in the palliative care field.
Conference Chair, Anna Towers, gave a tribute to Dr Balfour Mount, considered the father of palliative care in North America, and the initiator of the series of International Congresses on Palliative Care and the first person to use the term ‘palliative care.’
Prof. Mount took the stage to congratulate each member of the audience on their accomplishments and expressed gratitude for the unique contribution of each of the Congress participants to the field of palliative care.
David Eidelman, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University outlined the evolution of palliative care at McGill and the continuing pursuit of academic excellence in the field. Dr Eidelman noted that he was part of the “first generation of practitioners for whom having a palliative care unit was a normal thing”. However, he pointed out that, despite the increased recognition of the importance of palliative care “only a minority of patients who require this service receive it.”
Stephen Lewis, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University, former deputy director of UNICEF and former UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, looked ahead towards “a global vision of palliative care.” Professor Lewis urged the audience to advocate for the inclusion of palliative care in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He noted that “in the entire list of issues under health, there is no mention of palliative care,” despite it being “a component of health that is absolutely indispensable.”
He said: “at the grassroots there is a real capacity to provide palliative care, but it is such an immense struggle.”
Afternoon workshops explored paediatric palliative care, palliative care nursing and how to write for the media. Presentation sessions dealt with patients dying with schizophrenia, human rights and cultural challenges, and international partnerships.
The day ended with a poster viewing session, with presenters from across the globe sharing their work with Congress participants.