A report by Dr Pradnya Talawadekar (India)
The EAPC Congress 2013 was the largest event I have ever experienced. It provided very good opportunities to meet many delegates from various parts of the world. Interacting with them about our similarities and differences in care and culture was enlightening. The Congress program was very well designed ranging from the role of volunteers to advanced research in dementia.
In India, Palliative Care is neither prioritized by health care professionals nor by policymakers - Childrens' Palliative Care (CPC) is more neglected! There are only 4-5 centers dedicated to pediatric palliative care. I am the country coordinator of the project called "Children's Palliative Care" in India which is funded by Help the Hospices and DFID and mentored by International Children's Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) and Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai. The aim of the project is to advocate CPC in India by showcasing the experience gained through setting up three model service delivery sites in different settings.
The elements of the project are:
Maharashtra is one of the four high prevalence states in India for HIV and it accounts for around 20% of all reported cases. There are large numbers of children with other conditions like thalassemia, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, severe malnutrition and cancer. Each condition has unique needs and requires specialized interventions.
Attending the Congress was helpful to learn how people from around the globe develop palliative care programs with their available resources. The knowledge gained in this congress will be useful to me in executing our project.
The information I received will also help me plan the 1st ICPCN conference in India in February 2014.
I think IAHPC is doing wonderful work by providing traveling scholarships to workers in palliative care from developing countries.
A report by Dr. Sofia Bunge (Argentina)
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the IAHPC for giving me the opportunity to attend the 13th Congress of the EAPC. Attending this Congress was an excellent experience and it was the first time I had such an opportunity.
I presented 4 posters and one oral presentation. I was also able to meet other people in the field and learn about the wonderful work they are doing. I also had an opportunity to share with them our educational efforts and the success and challenges that we have had. Despite being from very different continents, there was a lot we had in common and a lot we can learn from each other.
With this broad view it made me to realize that we are achieving good results. I was able to share our experiences with my colleagues, learn about their efforts, challenges and achievements in the development of palliative care as a human right. I was able to attend most of the sessions on break-through pain, which gave me a new perspective on pain management and something to teach in our program.
I learned about the new list of Essential Medicines in Palliative Care and the information about the medicines used in our area was excellent. This is something I can advocate in my region. I was also able to begin to plan future research efforts in Argentina.
I work in the Centre for Palliative Care at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University which is the only medical university in Bangladesh. It introduced palliative care into its services in October, 2007. We serve the patients diagnosed with incurable, life limiting diseases and their families. Perhaps this is the first palliative care center in the history of the health system of Bangladesh. The services include patient service, education, awareness development and research.
The congress had so many wonderful sessions in all categories. There were more than eight hundred posters (including one of mine) which were truly amazing! I'll try to apply the research ideas that I learned during this congress. The renewed interest in dignity, peace, spiritual comfort and grief & bereavement support will help me to continue my journey in the future.
We've already started to work with our oncology department. The congress has given many new ideas to pursue. Community services would be the best way of offering palliative care in a country like ours. To develop community services and implement the ideas in the rural areas presents fascinating challenges.
I want to convey my sincere thanks to the team members of the IAHPC who made it possible for me to receive a Travelling Scholarship.
This Congress was very important and I was pleased and honored to be able to take part in it thanks to an IAHPC scholarship. I updated my knowledge, learned new information and skills during the plenary sessions, workshops and personal contacts. There were many brilliant people at the conference. They shared with us their knowledge, experience, and thoughts. I felt part of the larger palliative care community. I will share what I learned with my colleagues, and together we will improve as palliative care specialists as we help our people.
My newly acquired knowledge is applicable in our setting because there is no need to make the first steps, and to reinvent the wheel, we can just apply the experiences and achievements of developed and developing countries to our practice and adapt them to our cultural and national needs.
After my return I made a presentation about the days I spent at the Conference. Before my attendance at the Congress I had talked with my colleagues from the oncology department about the start of palliative care for the treatment of patients during their active treatment. So I was very much delighted when I heard the same concepts and efforts being discussed by others during the congress. This encouraged me very much. I immediately shared my impressions of current palliative care while giving lectures and seminars that we provide in various regions. I gave the lecture at the Yerevan State Medical University about the early integration of palliative care and oncology and its advantages. We discussed how this concept can be applied in our country. There were very heated discussions about the early introduction of palliative care into the active treatment phase of patients.
This scholarship gave me a unique opportunity in a limited time to update my knowledge and to simultaneously participate in plenary sessions, workshops, and exchange experiences with colleagues from other countries.