IAHPC Traveling Scholars' reports

2015; Volume 16, No 1, January

IAHPC Traveling Scholars' reports

16th International World Congress of Psycho-Oncology, Lisbon, Portugal

Philip Odiyo Ouma: “The IAHPC Traveling Scholarship is a noble initiative, enabling much-needed support for palliative care professionals.”

Philip Odiyo Ouma, a clinical psychologist working in a cancer centre in Nairobi, Kenya, received a grant to take part in the 16th International World Congress of Psycho-Oncology and Psychosocial Academy, held in Lisbon, Portugal, on 20-24 October 2014. Dr Ouma explains how information gained at the congress is impacting on his career.

I attended the IPOS conference as a plenary speaker on the future of psycho-oncology in Kenya and also helped to organize the first Early Career Psycho-oncology Professional (ECPP) group. I gained many skills and an understanding of psychosocial oncology initiatives and research in other countries, particularly the intervention programs in Brazil, Romania and Poland. I found similarities between Romania and Kenya, especially with regard to funding and the lack of oncologists and up to date radiotherapy facilities. The conference also helped me to make links with other professionals such as Prof. Shulamith Kreitler, with whom we are already organizing some pediatric psychosocial palliative care training next year in Kenya.

Attending IPOS 2014 was a key milestone in my professional career. Workshops were very informative and educational though I was disheartened that very little research was presented from Africa. Now I realize the value of research as a tool in crafting health policies and establishing interventions that are evidence based.

I learnt about the benefits of integrating psychosocial oncology into palliative care – an intervention that is barely integrated into mainstream hospice care in Kenya. A further spin-off was the opportunity to set up a team to coordinate and incorporate pediatric psychosocial care into the AORTIC (Africa Organization for Research and Training in Cancer) Conference in Morocco this year and I have also been invited to present at the conference. I have shared what I gained from the conference with other palliative care professionals, in particular at the 4th Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Conference where I was part of the psychosocial palliative care workshop. I also presented at the Kenya Society for Hematology and Oncology Annual conference in November – an opportunity to encourage the medical fraternity to incorporate holistic care in their treatment continuum.

In Kenya, palliative care is still perceived by medical personnel as a ‘dumping ground’ for patients before they die and the disjointed care has been one of the major sources of distress among palliative care patients. Another major concern is lack of training, especially in pediatric psychosocial oncology. There is also a need for cancer-specific training to address the complexities presented by emerging cancer cases. Research is the key to generating knowledge and empowering the providers; there is a great need to finance research in palliative care in Kenya and in Africa. Perhaps developed countries could partner with developing countries in designing research studies to generate new interventions that are research based and focused?


20th International Congress on Palliative Care, Montreal, Canada

Celeste Jerez, an anthropologist and researcher in pediatric palliative care in Buenos Aires, Argentina, received a grant to attend the 20th International Congress on Palliative Care in Montreal in September 2014. Here, she explains some of the challenges to pediatric palliative care in her country and how she is applying what she gained at the congress to introduce a new curriculum.

Cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental death in Argentinean children over five years of age and second in the group of one to four-year-olds. We recently conducted a study mapping all public institutions (n=38) that care for children with cancer to describe and analyze resources and practices available for the provision of pediatric palliative care (PPC) for this population. The public system assists 80% of the country’s cases and 50% are treated in three high complexity centers. We collected data from key providers at each institution (oncologist, PPC specialist, and pediatrician as available). Half of the institutions lacked a PPC specialist and over 50% of pediatric cancer patients lived far from the treating institutions. Although PPC specialists improved children’s access to opioids and quality end-of-life care, they are not fully integrated into cancer care. Ensuring high quality PPC to children residing far from treating institutions was reported as challenging because of limited transportation, difficulties in guaranteeing continuity of care at community level due to lack of PPC trained providers, and low opioid availability. Poverty usually exacerbated these hurdles.

The 20th International Congress on Palliative Care was my first experience of participating in an international congress outside my country. I presented a paper from the above study: “Providing Pediatric Palliative Care to Children with Cancer in Argentina: Existing Resources, Barriers, and Facilitators. Results from A National Mapping Study” at the pediatric seminar of the congress. The congress enabled me to disseminate the results of our national mapping study, to learn about the experiences of clinicians and researchers from other parts of the world, and to understand the Argentinian situation in relation to other countries’ results. Congress presentations helped me, as a member of the Center for Research and Implementation in Palliative Care, to think about which interventions would be the most appropriate to improve PPC in our country.

With the ultimate goal of improving the quality of pediatric palliative care in the region, we have recently started the EPEC-Ped Latin project. This is a cross-cultural adaptation and implementation of the ‘Education in Palliative and End of Life Care for Pediatrics’ (EPEC-Pediatrics) Train-the-Trainer Curriculum for Latin America. To date, we have established the Core Investigator Group, core members have trained as EPEC-Pediatrics master facilitators, and we are now translating, adapting and monitoring the whole curriculum for trainers and end users in Latin America. We hope that future Latin American trainers will educate local interdisciplinary teams on how to incorporate palliative care approaches into care for children with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses, which will lead to improved quality of routine pediatric care.


IAHPC Traveling Scholarships to the 14th World Congress of the EAPC in Copenhagen, May 8-10, 2015

We are pleased to announce that the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) will provide ten (10) scholarships to support the travel of palliative care workers to attend the 14th World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC Onlus).

The applicants must be:

  1. Living in Lower, Lower-Middle and Upper-Middle income categories as per the World Bank income classification data. See here.
  2. Active members of IAHPC.
  3. Working actively in palliative care.
  4. Registered as web users on the EAPC website (free of charge).

Preference will be given to individuals who have not received an IAHPC or OSF grant in the past three years, with accepted poster or oral presentations at the Congress.

EAPC will give discounted registration fees to individuals from countries in the Lower and Lower-Middle categories. Winners of the scholarships will benefit from this discount. Additional information about the congress is available on the congress website at EAPC-2015 website.

Applications from physicians, nurses, psychologists and other disciplines are welcome. If you wish to apply and are not an IAHPC member, you may join by clicking here.

More detailed information about the application process and the online form are available at the IAHPC website.

Applicants who submitted abstracts and whose posters are accepted, also need to send to IAHPC the confirmation of the acceptance after they receive it from EAPC.

Deadline to apply is January 30, 2015. Results will be announced by early February.

If you need information on how to apply or how to become a member, please contact Ana Restrepo, IAHPC Operations Officer at amrestrepo@iahpc.com.


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