Grantee details

Traveling Scholarships Program Report

Maya Jane Bates, MD

Travel date: May 18, 2017

Name of Meeting/Event/Activity: 15th European Association Palliative Care Conference

Origin: Blantyre, Malawi / Destination: Madrid, Spain


How was this meeting/activity helpful to you?

The meeting was very helpful to me for a variety of reasons. Firstly I was able to present some work from our local context and meet/discuss this with others working in other settings. Secondly, I was able to benefit from a rich feast of presentations (plenary, seminar and poster sessions) during the congress opening my eyes and ears to the amazing work which is being done internationally in the field of palliative care. At the IAHPC bursary scholars reception, I was able to connect with colleagues from neighboring countries as well as those from further afield, sharing success stories and challenges from our various areas of work.

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

I am currently at the end of the first year of my Ph.D. which is investigating whether palliative care can contribute to a reduction in household poverty for patients with advanced cancer. The conference enabled me to see my research within the context of current conversations in global palliative care research. I was able to hear presentations from those at the forefront of presenting powerful health economic arguments which have stimulated palliative care service expansion in resource-rich countries. Other posters and discussions stimulated me to think of potential research topics to look at with our team in Malawi. Research in resource-poor settings can serve a number of purposes – externally to raise awareness of the context and unmet need, helping to advocate for improved service development with policy makers and planners. Within teams, research activity encourages quality improvement and attention to detail in busy and often understaffed /underfunded settings.

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

The Scholarship program is an excellent way to help networking in international palliative care. I can’t really think how it could be improved.

Narrative summary highlighting the needs and challanges you face

Malawi has made significant strides in palliative care drug availability, policy, education, and implementation over the last ten years. Cooperation between the national association, Ministry of Health and key development partners has enabled services to be established in most district hospitals around the country. A dedicated children's’ palliative care service operates in the largest government teaching hospital. Major challenges exist in terms of maintaining the quality of services (staff turnover is high in the public sector) and funding for palliative care in those Centres of Excellence which depend on external funding to maintain and develop staff and services at a level to train and support those from less well-resourced sites. I am a family physician from the UK working alongside others in Malawi to develop palliative care services over the last 15 years. Currently, I am working primarily in the areas of teaching and research. I am at the end of the first year of my Ph.D. which is investigating whether palliative care can contribute to a reduction in household poverty for patients with advanced cancer, a topic stimulated from my observations from clinical practice. Research in resource-poor settings can serve a number of purposes – externally presentations can raise awareness of the context and unmet need, helping to advocate for improved service development with policy makers and planners. Within teams, research activity encourages quality improvement and attention to detail in busy and often understaffed /underfunded settings. The conference enabled me to see my research within the context of current global conversations in palliative care. I was able to hear presentations from health economists at the forefront of research which has stimulated the expansion of access to palliative care service in North American. Other posters and discussions stimulated me to think of potential research topics to look at with our team in Malawi. It has encouraged me to think how other team members active in teaching and research could also benefit from such opportunities through an IAHPC bursary.


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