By Katherine Pettus, PhD
IAHPC Advocacy Officer for Palliative Medicines
I will start the new year with a tribute to the outstanding dedication and commitment that health care workers in general, and palliative care workers in particular, have shown to their patients during this terribly difficult time. Our survey of the IAHPC membership revealed some of the challenges you are all facing and meeting with such grace. In the words of Pope Francis, whose new book, Let Us Dream, was my Christmas present to myself, you are antibodies to the virus of indifference. I will continue to do my utmost to support you and advocate for you.
Besides the achievements listed in the December 2020 issue, including the very exciting civil society roundtable with Dr. Tedros, director-general of the World Health Organization, December also saw our our participation in the reconvened session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and in an organizing meeting for a palliative care advocacy group of the Western Pacific region.
Led by Dr. Odette Sprujit and co-hosted by the Australian & New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine (ANZSPM), Palliative Care Australia (PCA), Australasian Palliative Link International (APLI), Paediatric Palliative Care Australia and New Zealand (PAPCANZ), the Center for Humanitarian Leadership (CHL), and the IAHPC, the session had an inspiring agenda.
In a post-session survey, participants stated the need for a regional network to facilitate awareness of palliative care through education, training, and knowledge-sharing. They want assistance to improve government support and funding, to help raise competencies in aspects of effective advocacy, and to build a supportive network across countries that will directly impact on patient care. We were delighted to have the participation of colleagues from Fiji, Tonga, and the Philippines. The report can be found here.
If you are interested in forming a regional advocacy network to participate in the WHO regional meetings listed below, please contact me and we can set up a preliminary organizing call. Your advocacy from the region will be very important and result in the inclusion of palliative care in the final report of the meeting. This probably will not happen without the participation of palliative care advocates.
We were very excited to be invited to participate in the United Nations Special Session on COVID-19 and submitted Ms. Harmala Gupta’s short video on home-based palliative care for cancer patients, which was introduced live (!) on the floor of the UN by Dr. Ebtesam Ahmed, PharmD, who briefly discussed the work of the IAHPC and offered to assist member states in developing an integrated palliative care response to COVID-19. Both Ms. Gupta and Dr. Ahmed are IAHPC board members.
Looking forward to 2021, when we expect all meetings to be virtual until further notice: IAHPC Advocacy Focal Points will participate in our delegation to the 148th meeting of the WHO Executive Board from January 18-26. We will be concentrating primarily on agenda items relating to access to medicines and disability.
In March, our delegation will participate in the UN’s 11th Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing, advocating for integrated palliative care for older persons, and in April we will “attend” the regular meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The 74th World Health Assembly will convene in May, celebrating the International Year of Health and Care Workers (as designated by the WHO), so we expect to be very active in our preparations and participation.
Please contact me if you would like more information on any of these meetings.
We would very much like palliative care advocates from the regions to participate in upcoming WHO regional meetings. The complete list is below; contact me if you would like to attend on behalf of IAHPC, and I will fully prepare you.
23–27 August: Lomé, Togo
Regional Committee for Africa: seventy-first session
6–10 September: Nepal. City to be determined.
Regional Committee for South-East Asia: seventy-fourth session
13–15 September: Copenhagen, Denmark
Regional Committee for Europe: seventy-first session
20–24 September: Washington, DC, United States of America
Regional Committee for the Americas: seventy-third session
Regional Committee for the Western Pacific: seventy-second session. Location to be determined.
11 – 14 October: Cairo, Egypt
Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean: sixty-eighth session
Stay tuned and be inspired to join our advocacy work in 2021!
Learn more about the Australian & New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine (ANZSPM), the Palliative Care Australia (PCA), and the Australasian Palliative Link International (APLI) in the IAHPC Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.