Highlights from the 7th International African Palliative Care Conference

Categories: Featured, In The Media, and Opinion.

The 7th International African Palliative Care Conference was held in Kampala, Uganda from 24 – 26 August 2022. The theme was palliative care in a pandemic. The conference was attended by delegates from Africa and beyond and key notable speakers were present both physically and virtually. Honorable Margaret Muhanga Mugisa Minister of State for Health in Charge of Primary Health Care officially opened the conference in Kampala on 25th August 2022.

Several presentations were made including people with lived experiences, plenary sessions, presentations of oral papers, and keynote speakers such as Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO Director General. He said, “Governments and donors have paid too little attention to providing care in the last days of life through better palliative care. Good palliative care is not limited to end-of-life care. If planned at an early stage, it can prevent unnecessary intervention save costs, and increase the quality of life for patients and their families. We remain committed to working with all partners and all countries to expand access to quality palliative care for all Africans.” Dr. Yonas Tegegn – Country Representative WHO said, “We need to make sure social care professionals and community caregivers are aware, trained, and capable of training others to ensure palliative care can be delivered.” In the African ministers’ meeting, a lot of government representatives represented different nations across the African continent, and speeches were made on the strides made to integrate palliative care into the health systems to achieve universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Dr. Stephen Connor – Executive Director, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance was present in Kampala and in his speech during the opening ceremony said, “I have stood up to speak about palliative care on many occasions but it is so much better to hear about palliative care from people with lived experience. Let this conference be a time of love and learning.” Later in the conference he added, “We would like all governments in Africa and in the world to do what was promised in 2014 at the World Health Assembly when they passed a resolution unanimously that all countries need to strengthen palliative care as part of the continuum of care throughout the life course.”

Dr. Emmanuel Luyirika – Executive Director, African Palliative Care Association said, “We all know how patients and their families suffered with many issues apart from the diseases, there was isolation and fear. We thought we should address that and also see how we can move forward. That is why the theme is palliative care in a pandemic.”

Please find the link to a brief TV interview  where Dr. Emmanuel Luyirika and Dr. Stephen Connor are quoted: https://youtu.be/WNb51uKXWxA

There was some advice from people who were very influential when it came to fundraising and donations to Africa in regard to palliative care. Dr. Joseph O’Neill – Lead architect of the President’s Global Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, The White House (2002-2005) said that Palliative care advocacy can’t just lean on one advocate or champion, no matter how powerful that person might be in the White House or in the Ministry of Health. The locus of decision-making has shifted from Washington DC and donor headquarters and funding decisions are being funneled to regional offices. Educating policymakers and donors has to happen at the country level. Dr. Andrew Purkis – CEO of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund (1998-2005) said that building alliances with organizations that work on broader development issues important to promote greater salience on palliative care issues.

To watch the video of Dr. O’Neill and Dr. Purkis click herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idL00UiiV_o

The conference ended on Friday 26 August on a high note where some delegates gave their closing remarks and were enthusiastic about continuing with the great work they do to better the lives of people living with palliative care needs in their communities.

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully but also to live until you die.” — Dame Cicely Saunders.

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