A report by Dr. Dimitri Kordazia (Georgia)
In its modern understanding, palliative care development started in Georgia in 2001. During the last 10 years through the permanent collaboration of devotees of governmental institutions, NGOs and international experts we've created a basis for palliative care to become an integral part of our healthcare system.
Regardless of achieved results, palliative care in Georgia currently is implemented only in the capital and several regions but covers only about 25% of the needs of our country. One essential gap is the absence of palliative care for elders and children -- both sensitive issues. The various national palliative care (PC) programs for children are more or less alike, but programs for elders are different and are influenced by multiple factors including socio-economic, environment, ethnic traditions and lifestyles.
One of my goals of participating in the EAPC Congress was to obtain recommendations from experienced colleagues on how to build national models of palliative care for elders and children and how to integrate them in a national government program that finances PC services.
My participation in meetings dedicated to the specialization of palliative care in European countries made clear the importance of improving and expanding palliative care education and training for medical doctors. The online education program in palliative care that the Georgian National Association for Palliative Care is currently preparing could be one of the tools for dissemination of knowledge among the medical doctors throughout the country.
I do hope that the recommendations and experiences I gained at the 13th Congress of EAPC will provide me with the ability to support further development and implementation of PC in Georgia. The IAHPC Scholarship was very useful and it will helped me develop a plan for our future.
During the EAPC Congress I participated in groups and presentations on education, mourning, euthanasia, spirituality, ethical items and the final stage of life. I found great intellectual nourishment from all of them.
This 13th Congress was very useful and enabled me to hear several colleagues talk about very important subjects related to my professional activity. At the same time, I shared and learned about other palliative care teams from various countries, obtained valuable information about program development, treatment protocols and strategies.
My own reflections and thoughts pertaining to euthanasia, ethical issues and other subjects during the final stage of life were greatly enriched.
I am very grateful and send my thanks to the IAHPC team for supporting me and giving me a scholarship for this Congress.
During the EAPC Congress, I had an opportunity to meet palliative care experts from around the world. Attending the seminars and workshops during the conference exposed me to many new ideas and innovative strategies related to the development of palliative care that I will adopt to enhance my work at our organization in Lebanon. I also had a chance to ask international palliative care professionals for their views about matters and obstacles that we face in my country and about challenges we are trying to overcome.
I returned to Balsam (the organization where I work in Lebanon) with so many new ideas about how to tackle issues related to fundraising, social media, volunteerism, and research. This congress was a great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge.
Palliative care services are almost non-existent in Lebanon; only home palliative care service is offered by a few nongovernmental organizations on a very small scale. Moreover, these services are still not reimbursed by any funding scheme. Palliative care is not a recognized medical specialty in Lebanon and very few healthcare providers have received training in the field. Capacity building interventions are needed in order to introduce a palliative care "culture" into our health care system. Pain management is underdeveloped in Lebanon because of an unjustified “opioid phobia” among the healthcare providers and in the Lebanese community. The limited availability of opioids and the restrictive laws in the Lebanese market make it difficult for physicians to practice proper pain management. Few research studies about palliative care have been done in Lebanon and more research about the various types of services, education and practice are needed.
Attending this congress was a great learning experience for me; it enhanced my advocacy skills. This will encourage me to continue working towards advocating for proper, accessible, and affordable palliative care services in Lebanon to all those in need -- it truly is a human right.