The EAPC Congress took place in June 2013 in Prague and the reports have been written by scholars who travelled from Georgia, Lebanon and Argentina to attend the international event.
Here are some excerpts:
Dr Dimitri Kordazia from Georgia discusses the relatively new provision of palliative care in Georgia and highlights gaps in the current service. He writes:
“In its modern understanding, palliative care development started in Georgia in 2001. During the last 10 years, through the permanent collaboration of devotees of governmental institutions, NGOs and international experts we´ve created a basis for palliative care to become an integral part of our healthcare system.”
But regardless of achieved results, palliative care in Georgia is currently only implemented in the capital and several regions and covers only about 25% of the needs of the country, according to Dr Kordazia.
“One essential gap is the absence of palliative care for elders and children,” he continues. “The various national palliative care programs for children are more or less alike, but programs for elders are different and are influenced by multiple factors including socio-economic, environment, ethnic traditions and lifestyles.”
Dr Kordazia’s goal of participating in the EAPC Congress was to obtain recommendations from experienced colleagues on how to build national models of palliative care for elders and children and how to integrate them in a national government program that finances palliative care services.
He writes: “My participation in meetings dedicated to the specialisation of palliative care in European countries made clear the importance of improving and expanding palliative care education and training for medical doctors. The online education program in palliative care that the Georgian National Association for Palliative Care is currently preparing could be one of the tools for dissemination of knowledge among the medical doctors throughout the country.”
Gustavo Rodio, a psychologist from Argentina, also found great benefit from participating in the EAPC Congress.
He reports: “During the EAPC Congress I participated in groups and presentations on education, mourning, euthanasia, spirituality, ethical items and the final stage of life. I found great intellectual nourishment from all of them.
“This 13th Congress was very useful and enabled me to hear several colleagues talk about very important subjects related to my professional activity. At the same time, I shared and learned about other palliative care teams from various countries, obtained valuable information about program development, treatment protocols and strategies.”
Rodio writes that his own reflections and thoughts about euthanasia and ethical issues were greatly enriched and thanked the IAHPC for “supporting me and giving me a scholarship for this Congress.”
In the final published report, Loubna Al Batlouni, a scholar from Lebanon, reflects on the conference giving her exposure to new ideas and innovative strategies related to the development of palliative care.
Batlouni intends to adopt some of the learned strategies to enhance her work in Lebanon:
“I returned to Balsam (the organisation where I work in Lebanon) with so many new ideas about how to tackle issues related to fundraising, social media, volunteerism, and research. This congress was a great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge,” she continues.
According to Batlouni, palliative care services are almost non-existent in Lebanon; only home palliative care service is offered by a few nongovernmental organizations on a very small scale.
She describes the difficulty controlling pain in a service which is “underdeveloped” and highlights an unjustified “opioid phobia” among the healthcare providers and in the Lebanese community.
Batlouni concludes that attending the congress was “a great learning experience” and one which will encourage her to continue working to advocate for “proper, accessible, and affordable palliative care services in Lebanon … it truly is a human right.”
The following people have also received scholarships to attend various international educational activities:
- Abdallah Issa Hinte fromTanzania: Bachelor of Science in Palliative Care Makerere University, Uganda.
- Odontuya Davaasuren from Mongolia:10th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference, Thailand.
- Kennedy Nkhoma from Malawi: Research Methods Couse at University of Nottingham, England.
- Anne Merriman from Uganda: APCA Conference, South Africa.
- Emilio Herrera from Spain: Argentina Development of Palliative Care, Argentina.