The first palliative care conference in Afghanistan took place on 6 May 2013. the conference was organized by Afghan Society Against Cancer in Kabul Medical University with close collaboration of Kabul Medical University, Silk Road Development, Emerging Leaders Consulting Services (ELCS) and the Organization for Health Promotion and Management (OHPM). 56 Afghani and international delegates attended the conference.
Dr Mohammad Shafiq Faqeerzai was inspired to organise the conference following a meeting with Dr Zack Taylor, M.D., FACP, from the Department of Family Medicine, University of Tennessee in the USA. Dr Taylor is involved with a hospice program in Afghanistan using a very limited budget to provide palliative care in a small area of Kabul City under the organizations Hamdardi and Silk Road Development.
Speaking to ehospice, Dr Faqeerzai said: “The concept of palliative care in Afghanistan has existed for many years but yet there is not enough knowledge in this field among the health professionals and we do not have a specialized palliative care program in Afghanistan. Despite opium cultivation and trafficking, opiate availability (for pain relief) is very poor in Afghanistan. Even in very late stages of cancer, doctors are afraid to prescribe morphine for the patients. We do not have a single hospice center in the entire country. These factors inspired me to organize the first one-day Palliative Care Conference in Afghanistan.”
The following topics were discussed at the conference:
- history of Palliative Care
- current status of terminal and life ending disease care in Afghanistan
- pharmacology and Availability of Opiates in Afghanistan
- palliative Care in Developing Countries
- cultural and religious perspectives regarding end of life in Afghanistan
- pain and symptom management in palliative care
- Hamdardi- Home Hospice Care in Afghanistan.
The organizers plan to repeat the conference each year in order to enhance the idea of Palliative Care in Afghanistan.
Photographs of the conference can be found on the Facebook page of the Afghan Society Against Cancer.