2008; Volume 9, No 11, November



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Message from the Chair and Executive Director

Professor Vittorio Ventafridda dies

IAHPC Traveling Scholar’s report - Dr. Jinxiang Li, Chengdu University, China

Palliative Care Book of the Month and Book Reviews

Article of the Month

Regional Reports by IAHPC Board Members – USA and Scotland

Regional Report from the United Arab Emirates

Scientific paper from the literature

Announcements, fellowships and scholarships

Call for IAHPC Board Member Nominations

World Institute of Pain extends abstract submission date

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Professor Vittorio Ventafridda

 Professor Vittorio Ventafridda


Professor Vittorio Ventafridda passed away on October 23rd in the hospice Pio Albergo Trivulzio in Milan, Italy.

Professor Ventafridda was born in the northern Italian city of Udine and graduated at Pavia’s Medical University in 1952. He spent four years in the USA where he did his internship and then took a residency in anesthesiology at the Research and Educational Hospital of the University of Illinois, Chicago. Back in Milan he was in charge of the anesthesiology department at the Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori and later he was appointed Director of the Palliative Care Unit.

He was one of the founders of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) during the 1970’s. In the year 1977, together with Virgilio Floriani, professor Ventafridda founded the Floriani Foundation, and took the position of Scientific Director. The purpose of the Foundation is to assist and help terminally ill patients.

In the 1980s, with the help of Floriani Foundation he launched a program for the continuing care of terminally ill patients at home that expanded to 14 other institutions and became a point of reference for the WHO’s Cancer Pain Relief Program.

One of the things he was most proud of was having been one of the authors of WHO’s Analgesic Ladder which has been translated into more than 28 languages and disseminated worldwide.

Most of Prof. Ventafridda’s later activities focused on the promotion of palliative care throughout Europe and the rest of the World. In pursuit of this, he founded and directed the Italian and the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC).

Prof. Ventafridda authored more than 250 publications mostly on pain control, quality of life measurements and palliative care. He was also an active member of several international scientific societies, 10 editorial boards and co-editor of 4 palliative care textbooks.

In the years previous to his death, he held many positions, including:

  • Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre in Cancer Control and Palliative Care at the European Institute of Oncology of Milan
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians
  • Honorary President of the European Association for Palliative Care
  • Scientific Director of the Floriani Foundation
  • President of the Italian School for Palliative Medicine

The EAPC has built into it’s website a page with messages of condolences from colleagues remembering Professor Ventafridda. If you wish to read the messages sent by people from around the world, please click on http://www.eapcnet.org/about/Ventafridda.html


From Roberto Wenk, MD, Chair IAHPC 

As an anesthesiologist, I began the treatment of cancer pain in San Nicolas, Argentina between 1981 and 1983. During that time professionals from different WHO Collaborative Centers came to teach us. One of them was Dr. Vittorio Ventafridda. In his first visit to Argentina, Vittorio gave me the “flag” that guided my palliative care activity. While tasting a red wine in Rosario - around 1984-5 ? - he told me something like this, "Roberto, by the year 2000 we must provide dying patients the same care we currently provide the newborn. Roberto, it is still my flag…”  

That brief, strong message was the “flag” that some of us needed in order to follow our path with confidence and power and without doubts or concerns.   

Bravo Vittorio.  

Many thanks,


If you would like to share your condolences with Professor Ventafridda’s wife and family, please kindly write to:

Marisa Ventafridda
Via degli Ottoboni 6
Milano, Italy

The funeral was celebrated on Saturday 25 at 2:45 PM – in the chapel of the Istituto Geriatrico Pio Albergo Trivulzio Hospice Via A. Trivulzio 15 – Milano.

Those of you who knew him, please send us your messages and testimonies and also pictures for the web pages that will be created in his memory.


Franco, Heidi, Amelia and Augusto
EAPC Head office

E-mail:  [email protected]

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