The EAPC was established on 12 December 1988, after Professor Vittorio Ventafridda and the Floriani Foundation responded to the need for an international palliative care association for all of Europe. Now, 25 years later, 55 national associations from 32 countries are members of this continent-wide association.
Professor Sheila Payne, President of the EAPC, commented on the progress that has been made by the EAPC since its inception. She said: “The EAPC has done much to promote and foster the development of palliative care in Europe and beyond over the last 25 years. This period has seen a remarkable growth in palliative care services, the integration of palliative care into national healthcare systems and policies, the education of clinicians, and the development of a portfolio of international research. Yet still much remains to be done, especially in central and eastern European countries, and those struggling with the impact of financial challenges resulting from the recession.”
The organisation aims to: “bring together many voices to forge a vision of excellence in palliative care that meets the needs of patients and their families.”
Part of this aim is to establish an international network for exchange of knowledge, to increase awareness of palliative care and to bring together those who study and practice the disciplines connected with the care of the terminally ill, their relatives and care givers. The EAPC holds an annual World Congress and a World Research Congress in alternate years. These events bring together people working in palliative care from all over the world and represent a multicultural environment for sharing learning and networking.
The most recent World Congress, held in Prague in 2013 saw the launch of the revised EAPC Atlas of Palliative Care in Europe, a publication which offers a comprehensive vision of the services, policies and strategies aimed at improving the end of life attention provided in Europe. Also at this event, the Czech Minister of Health received the Prague Charter– an important advocacy document calling on governments to recognise palliative care as a human right– on behalf of the European parliament. The 8th World Research Congress of the EAPC will take place in Lleida, Spain from 5-7 June 2014. Find out how to register online.
In order to promote the knowledge existing in palliative care and to establish international networks for the exchange of information and expertise, EAPC task forces and projects direct and support research and generate guidelines on numerous important issues. A full list of EAPC taskforces, projects and white papers can be found online.
Over the past 25 years, the EAPC has been a major force in supporting the development of palliative care in Europe and elsewhere in the world. The organisation collaborates with many other leading international organisations such as the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance, the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care and Human Rights Watch, to foster new educational initiatives, promote conferences and seminars, and contribute to global palliative care advocacy.
Reflecting on what the next 25 years will bring for the EAPC, Prof Payne said: “The landscape of palliative care in Europe and beyond is likely to change in the next 25 years. In Europe the population is ageing and therefore palliative care services and practitioners need to create innovative ways to support patients and families who may be older, frailer and are living with, and dying from, a number of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive respiratory disease, and dementia. In addition, there are challenges about who provides care and in what settings, that are affordable, sustainable and are of good enough quality, in different countries and systems. What will remain the same is a need for compassionate, skilled and knowledgeable care for patients and families. The EAPC aims to help national associations, governments and professionals to rise to these challenges.”