This past month was IAHPC members’ recognition month. IAHPC benefits every day from the hard work of our members who are devoted to the advancement of hospice and palliative care worldwide. Members exemplify a continuing commitment to patient care, improving education and developing favorable policies consistent with our mission. To celebrate our members’ month, IAHPC will be giving two prizes (a Traveling Scholarship or Traveling Fellowship of up to $2,000). Prizes will be given in two categories: a) Recognizing member loyalty and b) Increasing our membership. Keep an eye out for the announcement with the winners in the next few days.
Saturday October 8th was World Hospice and Palliative Care Day (WHPCD), a great campaign coordinated by the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) with the support of the global palliative care community. The focus of this year’s World Day is: “Living and Dying in Pain: It Doesn’t Have to Happen” to raise awareness about the millions of patients who do not have access to essential medicines for the relief of pain. Many organizations throughout the world celebrated to increase awareness among lay people, governments and patients that palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and families, and that appropriate policies and funding mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure access to palliative care and access to analgesics to those in need. More about WHPCD, including the initiatives that took place around the world and photos, is available in the world day website
In October, IAHPC cosponsored with the Barbados Association of Palliative Care a Workshop on availability and rational use of controlled medicines for the Caribbean countries. Prescribers, pharmacists, and national competent authorities from eleven different Caribbean countries attended.
The Bridgetown workshop featured experts on policy, palliative care and human rights from the US and the UK and the Caribbean. The country groups identified unduly restrictive barriers and developed action plans to ensure that governments and health services could deliver affordable, accessible, palliative care to all citizens of the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) region. Workshop participants learned about the international drug control treaties, the World Health Assembly Palliative Care Resolution, the Sustainable Development Goals, the human rights conventions, and the recommendations delivered by the United Nations at the recent Special Session on the World Drug Problem to improve access to medicines containing regulated “narcotics”. They also learned about how countries can elaborate estimates to prevent stockouts of medications and which medicines are essential in palliative care.
Dr. Kenneth George, on behalf of the Honorable John Boyce, Minister of Health of Barbados, opened the workshop telling the audience that, “It is projected by the Pan American Health Organization that by 2030, 85% of all deaths in Barbados will result from non-communicable diseases. Clearly this particular health profile epidemiological shift will necessitate significant palliative care options and interventions.” Non-communicable diseases include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, chronic degenerative diseases, and dementias. The countries identified unduly restrictive barriers to the availability and rational use of opioids and developed an action plan to eliminate these barriers. The plan will require collaboration with government, healthcare professionals, pharmacists, academia and the civil society at large.
Taking advantage of the presence of 47 participants from the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Palliative Care Association (CARIPALCA) was formed.
Once formalized and legally incorporated, CARIPALCA will continue working to support national efforts to advance palliative care as a component of Universal Health Care and improve access to essential medicines, especially opioids for the relief of pain and dyspnea.
Congratulations to Dr. Dingle Spence from Jamaica, for her election as the founding president of CARIPALCA.
Until next month,
Lukas Radbruch, MD
Liliana De Lima, MHA