Travel date: August 16, 2016
Name of Meeting/Event/Activity: 5th International African Palliative Care Conference
Origin: Ibadan, Nigeria / Destination: Kampala, Uganda
It was a mind blowing meeting for me, an experience that cannot be forgotten in a long while. Saying “Helpful” is an understatement, it was very educative, interactive and an eye opener to international networking in palliative care. Learnt a lot from the sessions, the research workshop threw more light on how and what to research one, green arears that are yet to be explored, challenges and how to overcome them. Professor Lukas made us understand that money is not the first thing needed for research as people always say, rather Knowledge on the area who want to study, then networking with others. The meeting helped me to meet with experts in the palliative care field who will be of great help in my pursuit of becoming a palliative care trainer in Nigeria, through the meeting the experts’ sessions. The poster sessions was a great avenue for me to read and learn from the various research work displayed at the stands. Interacting with other poster presenters paved way for exchange of ideas on research, helped to identify challenges in palliative care research and practice from other Africa countries. I was able to identify the fact that most of these challenges especially in West Africa was due to lack of support from Government and policy makers. A particular poster caught my attention so much, ”Maggot on the Move”, using maggot therapy to clean wounds. It was innovative area to me, which made me interact with the presenter, helping me get better understanding and networking with him on how to identify and improve care of patients needing this therapy. The adoption of the “Kampala Declaration” by the Ministers of health showed the efforts being put into palliative care by Palliative care organizations and practioners in the various African countries represented for improved patient care. In all, I would say attending the conference has added to my knowledge of research and the practice of palliative care.
Knowledge and skills acquired from attending the conference will enable me have a voice before the policy makers and institution in my country. Through networking with the contacts made at the conference, I will be able to carry out improved research with my team members. Knowledge and skills acquired from the conference will enable be a better palliative care trainer, hence enhanced delivery of quality step down training to trainees. I have also be enhanced with improved knowledge in the area of my current Maters degree programme and has also stimulated my zeal to pursue more knowledge in palliative medicine through a Postdoctoral degree. In all totality, knowledge and skills acquired from the conference has given me an edge as a palliative care practioners in my Institution, hence my country.
I believe the travelling scholarship is in order.
As a palliative care Practioner in my country (Nigeria) and institution, challenges faced in the provision palliative care are: 1) Lack of palliative care awareness among skilled and non- skilled health care practioners within and outside our institution. 2) Late referral of patients to the palliative care team.3) Lack of support for palliative care from the Ministry of Health. 4) Non involvement of policy makers in supporting palliative care. 5) Lack of funding for education for palliative care practioners. 6) Misunderstanding of palliative care by the public. In view of the above listed challenges, although palliative care is a new specialty in the Medical Health system in Nigeria and only available in very few tertiary institutions within the country, there is need for integration of palliative care into the National health policy to enhance awareness about palliative care in the country. Inclusion of palliative care into the National health care system will create awareness within the policy makers and hence , the needed support from them. Palliative care is a new specialty in Nigeria and in our institution, a country of over 170 million people with very few Health care professionals to meet the huge health care demand, there is the need for training of Health professionals to increase the number of palliative care practioners available in the country. This can be achieved by making funds available for training and education of health professionals interested in pursuing a career in palliative care/ medicine. Since most of the education needed are currently available outside the country, hence the huge sum of money needed for the training and education, financial support from institution and Government and from international funders will increase and make available the needed skilled health care professionals in Palliative care to meet the palliative health care demand. With my interest in caring for palliative care patients and pursuing a career in the field of palliative care, I had to access huge loans to pay for my trainings and education in palliative care/Medicine which grossly limits take home funds at the end of each month , almost leaving nothing to live on. The push for these loans and always being at increasing knowledge and skill as a palliative care professionals to give improved and quality care to our patients. However, attending the conference has enlightened and broaden my knowledge and skills on how to overcome some of this challenges. As regards education, the research workshop helped me to understand the importance of “NETWORKING” with other palliative care practioners from other parts of the world which will enhance collaboration for research and education. Through this networking, one can get information on available funding for various palliative care education and training. The meeting with international donors also threw more light on how palliative care practioners can access support for research and training. Having gotten this information, I plan to continuously contact the already “ Established Networking links “ achieved at the conference and to also share useful information. I also will share information on available palliative care funding with my other team members to enable them pursue an education in palliative care as desired. This is why am so grateful to the IAHPC team for the travelling support to attend this conference, as am currently running a Maters degree in Palliative medicine at the University of Cape Town and need funding for tuition fee and completion of my thesis, which I believe networking is a bright area of help. The ‘KAMPALA DECLERATION “ agreed upon at the conference will serve as an Advocacy tool for care within and outside our institution. These declaration strongly highlights the need for palliative care in West Africa , which if and when it reaches the policy makers can pave way for integration of Palliative care at the National and local/community health care systems. Also presentation of the feedback from the conference within and outside our institution at clinical meetings, ( departmental/interunit) ,meetings with the local authorities and Non for profit organizations, can also help in breaking these barriers.