Grantee details

Traveling Scholars Program Report

Sanghamitra Bora, DR

Travel date: May 23, 2019

Name of Meeting/Event/Activity: 16th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC)

Origin: Guwahati, India / Destination: Berlin, Germany

How was this meeting/activity helpful to you?

Attending the EAPC conference is a dream come true for me. This is a great platform that gives one the space to realize one’s innate abilities and gather ideas from peers and experts. My poster was selected as one of the best three in the category of Health Services Research and that is a big boost for me. My interest to learn more and develop research ideas have increased even more. Most importantly I have learnt that simple ideas can be beautifully presented with intricacies of facts and evidence. The educational sessions, posters and the art of exchange of ideas have been really a great experience. I feel enriched with new knowledge and experience. I am encouraged and empowered to give my people back home the service that still lacks the standard that should be there. The EAPC conference also provided the opportunity to make new friends who are ready to help me in taking my ideas forward in my own place.

How will you new knowledge & acquired skills help in furthering your work in hospice and palliative care in your program/city/ or country?

I belong to the North-eastern state of Assam in India, presently working as Lead - Palliative Care in Assam Cancer Care Foundation [A Joint initiative of Government of Assam & Tata Trusts]. The aim of this initiative is to establish 19 cancer hospitals and units all throughout the state of Assam wherein Palliative Care is an important entity. I am heading the Palliative Care department in this initiative, and realize how important it is to implement the integrated Onco-Palliative Care approach right from the very beginning. The ideas that I have gained in the conference proceedings in which early palliative care and integration of Palliative care and Oncology have been the main points of discussion, I am sure I will be able to implement this approach in a non-threatening manner in my area of work. I do hope that Assam would become a model of Early integrated Onco-Palliative Care approach and can be replicated in other parts of the country. I aspire to bring a change in the way palliative care is looked at and give my people the best possible care which they truly deserve.

How IAHPC Traveling Scholars Program be improved in order to help other future traveling scholars?

I am extremely grateful to IAHPC for providing me with this much needed chance to attend such a prestigious conference. I genuinely feel that it is unbiased in choosing the most deserving participants and it will continue to do so in future too. Although I also feel that the number of scholarships should be raised and that will surely make a difference to those who still wait for monetary help to showcase their work in the world platform. Thank you IAHPC!

Narrative summary highlighting the needs and challanges you face

There are numerous challenges that I have faced while practicing Palliative Care. Lack of understanding about Palliative Care and its benefits is reflected amongst physicians and the general public alike. I have always faced the challenge of getting timely referrals. Denial by patients and their family is also a huge challenge; it is almost impossible to get their mindset changed from death denying to accepting the reality. Another factor is access to essential medications that include opioids, especially oral morphine. Although the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances act have been simplified and access to opioids made easier, implementation is a huge challenge, and that means it still remains a paper tiger. The government authorities and the bureaucracy that revolves around make the task even more complicated. I have also faced problems that arise out of self-styled palliative care providers who provide low quality and improper care in the name of Palliative care. This has diluted the essence of quality palliative care in the long run and well-intentioned Oncologists have lost faith in the specialty. Many other problems persist, and we need to sort out things in a better way to give our people the best care that they deserve.