The Asia Pacific Hospice and Palliative Care Conference 2023 (APHC2023) in Incheon, South Korea, was the inaugural conference for the APHN Primary Palliative Care Special Interest Group [PrimPallCare SIG (APHN)].
The SIG was formed two years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic when a group from the Asia Pacific Region met on a WHO webinar and discovered a common interest in Primary Palliative Care.
The first Zoom meeting of the fledgling group in June 2021 brought together palliative care champions in the primary care setting from around the region.
Pioneers of palliative care in the community who had a vision to see “Palliative Care for All” become a reality by enabling primary care practitioners to incorporate holistic care for people with advanced illness into their integrated chronic disease management.
At its inception, the SIG had representation from Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, India and Nepal. APHC2023 provided an excellent forum for several of the founders of the PrimPallCare SIG to meet face-to-face for the first time.
It also drew colleagues from other APHN sectors into the group. Moving forward, the SIG is presently in the process of attracting subsequent representations from South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Bhutan.
The Open Meeting of the SIG on the second morning was led by Chair Dr Chamath Fernando from Sri Lanka. New members were welcomed as we discussed the definition and scope of primary palliative care.
In the main conference, Dr Fernando also highlighted the importance of education in enabling Family Physicians and primary care teams to gain the knowledge, skills and attributes to deliver high-quality holistic care for all needy patients.
The Hinohara Memorial Lecture entitled ‘Primary Palliative Care the First 60 Years: The Long Road to Universal Health Coverage’ was delivered by Dr Daniel Munday from the United Kingdom, presently stationed in Nepal.
It explored how, in the 1960s, Family Practice and primary care shared a holistic, patient-centred approach with the new discipline of Hospice Care. The talk traced the evolution of “palliative care for all” and how primary palliative care is the vehicle for achieving this as part of Universal Health Coverage.
In a concurrent session, Dr Munday also shared their experience and learning from developing a new model of primary palliative care emerging in rural Nepal.
The nature of primary palliative care in each locality depends on the model of primary care in operation.
The Asia Pacific is a vast region with many different approaches to primary care.
Dr Teguh Perdamaian presented the method and early results for the ongoing survey of primary palliative care undertaken by the SIG. This aims to provide a baseline of primary palliative care models in the region, from which all can learn and on which we can build.
A poster presentation by Dr Kinley, a family physician from Bhutan, the newest sector to join, reminded us of the need in remote areas where palliative care is only starting to be established.
The PrimPallCare-SIG (APHN) already has good relations with our colleagues in Europe, Africa and Latin America, as well as our friends in WONCA – the Global Organisation of Family Physicians.
We are working together to understand the nature and scope of primary palliative care. APHC2023 was an excellent opportunity to take the mission to the next level.
We look forward to the WONCA World Conference 2023 in Sydney, Australia and APHC2025 in Sarawak, Malaysia, where we can take stock and hopefully celebrate how far we have come.
Primary Palliative Care Special Interest Group of the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network
Daniel Munday, Chamath Fernando