Palliative care training in Kosova

Categories: Education.

The conference takes place on 17 and 18 October and is hosted by UK aid and development charity Smile International working with the Palliative Care and Education Centre (PCEC) in Lezhe, Albania to provide the training sessions. Speakers at the conference include Dr Albert Leka from PCEC and Dr Elizabeth Swain from PRIME in Albania as well as Dr Blerta Zeka, who will be sharing with the conference about her training in the UK. 

Smile international CEO Clive Doubleday, speaking from the conference said
“Smile International is really thrilled at the growth and development of our palliative care work, and we recognise that it’s so important to raise awareness of palliative care through these training workshops and conferences. There is such a hunger from the doctors and nurses to truly understand palliative care and how to treat and care for terminally ill patients at the end of their life. The experience of Dr Elizabeth Swain and the Albanian doctors is invaluable and many of the local doctors here are just so grateful for the opportunity to meet together for this palliative care conference”. 

The training conference is building on the successful 2nd Balkan Palliative Care Conference which took place in Kosova last  April. This conference was attended by 77 delegates from Kosova, Albania and the UK. The conference aimed to raise the profile of palliative care in the Balkans and allow doctors, nurses, social workers and pastors to learn more about it and share best practice.

Smile International established a palliative care service in Gjakovë, Kosova in June 2011. A doctor, Dr Blerta Zeka, and a nurse, Mirlinda Bobi, have been appointed to oversee this area of the work. Speaking at the conference in April, Dr Zeka highlighted the frustrations and challenges faced by the team which include access to pain relief medication, particularly oral opioids and the lack of education about palliative care in Kosova and the treatment of the subject of cancer as a taboo by society.

The conference report highlights several areas where there is a need for more information, training and resources on palliative care including: 

  • a need to dispel the public ignorance about Palliative Care and what Palliative Care is by using the media. 
  • a need to negotiate with the Ministry of Health about covering the cost of pain relief medication.
  • a need to move forward towards a National Palliative Care strategy for Kosova and look at opening a day-care centre that can be developed for patients. 

Since the April conference doctors from Kosova have visited the UK for a week of intensive training at St Christopher’s Hospice London and for three days at Harris HospisCare, Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice and the EllenorLions Hospice.

Find out more on Smile international’s website.

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