IAHPC members who won Traveling Scholar access to the online European Association of Palliative Care World Research Congress, held in October, have submitted their reports.
By Dr. Elizabeth Namukwara
As a palliative care physician working in an academic setting as well as a hospital setting, I will use knowledge gained at the congress in teaching undergraduate students of different disciplines of medicine. Exposing these, our future leaders in clinical care and medical education, to palliative care research is useful in changing their attitudes toward palliative care. We have observed that once they acquire knowledge and skills, they become advocates and agents for change.
Lack of evidence on effectiveness of palliative care interventions has prevented my colleagues from taking on palliative care; evidence from this conference will be very useful in answering some of their questions. Also, students increasingly want to do research in palliative care, and I was exposed to a wide range of topics that can be replicated in our setting.
I will also use the information obtained from this conference in discussions with colleagues at mini rounds and grand rounds. I hope to incorporate some of the information learned (e.g., use of patient reported outcomes to assess our impact on patient care) to use in our advocacy for palliative care services with policy makers. The information from the session on integration of specialist palliative care is timely; I will use it to advise a national institution trying to integrate palliative care.
I have often had difficulty explaining spiritual care to colleagues, but after attending the EAPC open meeting presentations on spirituality, I found a simple way to do it. I was pleased to get information on relevant clinical issues such as opioid addiction in palliative care, which is a common question from patients and colleagues. I now have clear answers and I hope to investigate this in our patient population.
By Natalia Carafizi
Chisinau, Repubic of Moldova
Despite being held online due to COVID-19, the congress totally exceeded my expectations. The scientific event was not only the fount of modern clinical and research recommendations, but also an inspiration of the philosophy and wisdom of palliative care, high-level professionalism, charisma of the presenters and moderators, and life expertise from the colleagues all over the world.
The scientific information was not only useful for daily practice, it was information to be shared with our national association to update strategies on palliative care, and to be considered while integrating palliative care into educational curricula and other clinical disciplines.
By Matteo Gomez
In my country, palliative care is new to a lot of people, especially practitioners and people outside the main cities. I´m going to be more aware of certain issues that I used to dismiss.
We have a good team, but there’s always room for improvement. I will concentrate on improving communication skills between the team and patients, as well as among team members, I will also work to implement some guidelines for issues discussed during the congress. The congress did not specify how to improve the policies in my country specifically, but by educating our health care directors and the general public, I think we’ll be able to enact some good changes in the medium and long term.
Poster/Oral Presentation: Updates in Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Intensive Physician Board Review.
By Deborah Ajulu
Oxford, United Kingdom
My background is economics, and therefore my major concern is the adequate resourcing of palliative care. There was clear acknowledgement by most of the presenters that PC is an area that commands multidisciplinary collaborative engagements and interactions. In addition, research itself is an activity that cuts across all academic disciplines.
It was fascinating to learn that there were more than 1,000 presentations submitted for the event, on top of numerous posters all connected to palliative care. On listening to the presentations and reading the posters, the main thing that stood out — and was explicitly brought out — is the recognition that palliative care is a service that is very critical in the fulfillment of the objective to provide the quality of life, and end of life, for patients, for which all general health services strive. This point has been highlighted by the rapid changes in life experiences, such as the onset of COVID-19, that require versatility and agility of response.
A great volume of the research from this congress loudly proclaims: “Palliative care is a critical need!”
By Emília da Felicidade Venturas Pinto Miquidade
I could see that despite the pandemic, it is possible to exchange experiences in research related to palliative care.
This experience guides me towards promoting and further developing home-based care to ensure care for patients even in a pandemic situation, and to make palliative care dynamic in my country. We are increasingly using communication technologies to access and promote this care to patients who are far away.
One of the main needs we have is to provide palliative care for children.
Our main difficulties have to do with an increase in the number of patients in palliative care consultations but, fearing the pandemic, many do not travel to renew morphine prescriptions. Patients closest to the hospital have been coming for their medication; the fact that we did not have a home service prevented regular distribution of morphine.
By Fadi Abu-Farsakh
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
It was a great meeting. The platform was very user-friendly, there were hundreds of presentations to attend at the time that works for you. I learned a lot, especially regarding recent updates in COVID and palliative care, which were very helpful as I am dealing with critically ill COVID patients daily.
The meeting was also extremely useful in providing new information for me regarding research ideas, and how to invest my time spent doing research.
Personally, having worked as a palliative care physician in Jordan, I was thrilled to see three presentations addressing the palliative care situation there, including high demand, complex medical illnesses, and the lack of PC training and PC specialists. I was happy to see these problems addressed in such a great meeting — the first step in finding solutions and increase the public awareness. Thank you, IAHPC!
By Maboreje Ololade
Firstly, I want to say that I appreciate the IAHPC for the opportunity to be part of the congress. I have learned that palliative care issues in Africa and Europe have a similar approach to interventions despite our social, cultural and resources differences. In Europe, I learned, more attention is paid to the child patient and early referral to palliative care, giving the child holistic care throughout the period of the illness.
In addition to little palliative care training or support in Nigeria, we have the challenge of minimal analgesics; opioids are available in few institutions, as many physicians avoid prescribing it for fear of addiction — even when patients are in severe pain.
To overcome challenges, the palliative care team will intensify our advocacy through workshops and the media (health talk shows on TV and radio, and social media). We will also intensify research in order to spread information about palliative care services.
By Dr. Willians Antonio Lopez Chacon
San Salvador, El Salvador
It helped me to acquire new knowledge and updates about the approach to patients with advanced oncological and non-oncological diseases, as well as reinforcing the comprehensive approach to the patient and their families. It also helped me update information to support palliative care education in my country.
By Nicoleta Mitrea
It was such a positive experience to meet with colleagues all over the world, follow the presentations, and hear the work of great clinicians. Our struggles are similar. It was a relief to know that we share the challenges of the pandemic’s impact on palliative care services all over the world.
It was a fantastic experience to follow the diverse program through the easy-to-use platform provided. Perhaps we, in Romania, could find it useful during the pandemic for our own association. From the advocacy perspective, there are several posters that presented advocacy projects, tools, successes that hopefully we will implement while developing specialized services in our country.
In Romania palliative care was launched 28 years ago; we now have multiple locations and multiple types of services. Each learning opportunity has made our advocacy stronger and better equipped to develop plans and policy initiatives for change.
By Rose Gahire
The skills I got from this congress helped me advocate for palliative care to be included in the 2020-2025 National Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases.
Palliative care in my country is not funded, and most of the work is done on a voluntary basis. One issue that greatly interested me was how to improve policy engagement. Another session, on “Volunteering in Palliative Care and Hospices,” touched me so much: even at the end I had more questions than answers.
Answers to these questions will inform my engagement with our volunteers. Nothing can be achieved without political will, and blessings.
By Grace Kivumbi
Spiritual support is an important component of the care that we provide to our patients and their families. However, we do not have a designated spiritual care provider amongst our team. Therefore, every member of the team is expected to be able to support the patients and their families in this way. Leaning from the experiences of others gives me new knowledge to share with the team, so our patients and families can have a better life even in the final stages.
It was my first time attending an EAPC conference, and a conference online. Who ever thought it could be done! It was very well organized, with very knowledgeable speakers and good information shared. And it is also helpful to know that I can always go back and listen and watch the recorded sessions.
By Artashes Tadevosyan
Palliative care in Armenia is in its first steps. The organization of palliative care services, needs assessment, breaking bad news, communication with patient and family — all of these things are based on international guidelines and recommendations and do not consider local traditions, culture, or mentality. To develop a customized health care system, based on local needs for palliative care, we need our own reliable research data.
Any kind of new information — participation in conferences, symposiums, presentations and discussion of research results — is enormously valuable for me. I downloaded and recorded lot of useful materials. Most interesting were presentations about care of patients with COVID and respiratory problems.
I am not a practitioner, but teach students and residents general principles, the approach of palliative care, its integration in health care, and primary palliative care. I will use all the new information to update my lectures and presentations.
To find out more about IAHPC’s Program Support Grants, and our Traveling Scholarships and Traveling Fellowships, please visit our website. Through these programs we support projects and individuals around the world, especially in developing countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
You can contribute to this program and help palliative care workers attend and participate in congresses and courses by donating to the Traveling Scholarships Campaign in the Global Giving website.