Message from the Chair and Executive Director

2020; Volume 21, No 9, September

Dear Readers,

During August, many readers took some vacation days, as did we. If you were among them, we hope you enjoyed the rest. And we hope that all our readers, their loved ones, and their friends are doing well and staying healthy.

Next month is an especially important one for the global palliative care community.

First, October is IAHPC Members’ Recognition Month. IAHPC benefits every day from the hard work of our members who are devoted to advancing hospice and palliative care worldwide. Members exemplify a continuing commitment to patient care, improving education, and developing favorable policies consistent with our mission.

IAHPC celebrates our members by awarding a prize in each of two categories: a) loyalty (IAHPC Loyal Members’ Award), presented to one member from among all who have been members for the past three years or more, and b) increasing membership (IAHPC Membership Drive Award), honoring the member who has helped bring in the most new members in the previous 12 months. Keep an eye on your email inbox — or this newsletter — for the announcement of the winners. Details about the awards are in the News section.

Second, we celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on Saturday, October 10. This is a great campaign coordinated by the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) with the support of the global palliative care community. This year’s theme is, Palliative Care: it's “My Care, My Comfort.” People from around the world who have been impacted by serious health-related suffering – either personally or by supporting a loved one – will be making their voices heard. The goal of Palliative Care: it’s “My Care, My Comfort” is to let the public know that patients and families can demand palliative care as a health care right. The message is that by joining together, every person impacted by a life-limiting illness can influence their policy makers to prioritize palliative care integration into primary health care, financed under Universal Health Coverage. The pandemic has made this goal more urgent than ever, as revealed by our membership survey and the flood of news reports and journal articles.

Many organizations around the world are planning celebrations to increase public and government awareness that palliative care improves the quality of life for patients and families, and that appropriate policies and funding mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure access to palliative care for everyone in need. You can read more about World Hospice and Palliative Care Day initiatives taking place around the world, and find photos and resources on the WHPCA website.

On a sad note, Dr. Mary Baines died on August 21 at St. Christopher’s Hospice, where she had worked since 1968. She was a pioneer who dedicated her life to improving care for dying people around the world, particularly in resource-poor settings. One of her most important contributions was establishing home care services at St. Christopher’s, which expanded exponentially and allowed the majority of patients with palliative care needs to remain at home. The European Association for Palliative Care published a beautiful tribute in a blog, and St. Christopher’s is inviting those who knew her to add their memories to the hospice’s posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as a virtual memorial honoring Mary’s life and contributions to the development of palliative care.

Last but not least, many thanks to all the members who responded to our survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are incredibly grateful for their time and dedication to the field. As a gesture of gratitude with the members who responded, we extended their membership for three months. In response to this gesture, we received the following nice message from Dr. Noel Pingo in The Philippines:
I appreciate the gesture of extending my membership for three months, thank you very much. As among the many health professionals, most likely as the rest of IAHPC, who have been struggling with the impact of this pandemic not much for ourselves but for our patients whose care is hampered significantly by measures meant to prevent transmission, this is a most welcome gift. This has been a really difficult day here in the Philippines and your generous gift put a smile on my face and an added stride to my steps.
Stay safe at all times. We have to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others.

This issue of the newsletter includes preliminary data of the survey prepared by Dr. Tania Pastrana, IAHPC Research Adviser. Many of the responses were quite shocking and hard to read; many also shared with us extraordinary coping strategies, which we plan to include in future editions. Keep an eye out for upcoming stories!

Until next month,

Lukas Radbruch, MD

Liliana De Lima, MHA
Executive Director

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