Dear friends of IAHPC,
Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2022 will bring many opportunities to expand and increase access to palliative care and look forward to continuing our support for palliative care workers and caregivers around the world in their efforts to relieve serious health-related suffering.
This first edition of the IAHPC Newsletter for 2022 has a separate message from Professor Lukas Radbruch, the Chair of the Board of Directors. So, for this time, this column is just by me. We will continue our joint column next month.
This edition highlights some of the accomplishments and progress of the past year, listed under our four core areas of work:
In April we cohosted a 90-minute civil society roundtable with World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus titled Palliative care integration in COVID-19 response and other WHO Strategic Priorities leading to comprehensive primary health care under universal health coverage. This roundtable was organized by the IAHPC in collaboration with the Worldwide Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network, and the International Federation on Ageing. All members of civil society organizations (CSOs) were invited through social media and other platforms.
Palliative care providers and people with palliative care needs addressed the following palliative care topics, all of which relate to the WHO 13th General Program of Work and its “Triple Billion Targets.”
To celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day in October, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros endorsed palliative care in a recorded welcome at an IAHPC seminar co-organized with the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health. Dr. Tedros reported that, following our civil society roundtable in May, he wrote to all heads of state urging them to support the 2014 WHA 67/19 resolution on palliative care. Check out his powerful message.
In July we had our amazing photo contest with members. Many of these photos have been, and will continue to be, featured in the newsletter and other IAHPC publications. Check out the winners in the October edition.
Early in 2021, we published our COVID-19 and Palliative Care Briefing Notes Series. This compilation collects 27 briefing notes co-authored by global experts, and developed between April and September 2020, the height of the first wave of the COVID19 pandemic. They are addressed to civil society organizations, UN member states, Secretariat staff at the UN Organizations, policy makers, administrators, service recipients, and health care providers. Each briefing note provides a snapshot of globally relevant information and guidance on an issue relating to palliative care in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and was paired with a webinar. You can download the compilation, which remains as relevant as ever while the pandemic continues to rage, here.
In April, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the IAHPC Newsletter!! Alison Ramsey prepared a special edition, which includes personal stories of our time with the IAHPC as well as those of founders such as Derek Doyle, William Farr, and Roger Woodruff, and former Chairs Kathy Foley, Eduardo Bruera, and Roberto Wenk. If you missed that amazing edition, you can read it on our website.
Al Jazeera television broadcast a fantastic interview with Lukas. One thing that made this such a great interview was the host’s excellent questions. You can watch the interview here.
In June we announced publication of the third edition of Getting Started: Guidelines and Suggestions for those Starting a Hospice/Palliative Care Service by Dr. Derek Doyle.
Thousands of people, many of whom have told us how helpful it was, have downloaded the second edition, published in 2009. The third edition is available on our website at no charge as a service to the global palliative care community.
The Journal of Pain and Symptom Management published our health systems analysis on Colombia and palliative care was published titled “How Universal is Palliative Care in Colombia? A health policy and systems analysis.” As far as we know, this article, based on research by myself, Tania Pastrana, Felicia Knaul, Hector Arreola, and Natalia Rodriguez, is the first in-depth country health systems analysis relative to palliative care and Universal Health Coverage.
Last year, several staff and board members designed a study on the impact of COVID-19 on palliative care workers, disseminating a survey among IAHPC members around the world. Two papers based on the results—a quantitative and a qualitative analysis—are available to download.
One of our four founders, Dr. Roger Woodruff, passed away in Australia in July. A leading figure in the development of global palliative care, his passing is a huge loss. We had many things in common—in particular our strong belief that palliative care is the right approach to ensure dignity for patients facing end of life and for patients with serious health-related suffering. Together we argued against euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide—lauded by some as the way to achieve dignity in dying. His passion and his strong conviction on this topic of great ethical salience, and his fear that many patients could be offered PAS or be euthanized rather than provided with palliative care, were a driving force behind the IAHPC position statement against euthanasia and PAS, to which Roger, as a coauthor, contributed substantially. His book Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide: Are they Clinically Necessary? is one of the most frequently downloaded resources from our website.
Roger never shied away from voicing his opinion—even to those who disagreed with him. But he was always straightforward and candid. He was true to himself and his beliefs and we miss him greatly.
This tribute, which appeared in the August issue of the newsletter, includes a brief biography and contributions from cofounders as well as former and current members of the IAHPC Board of Directors.
We also announced changes to the IAHPC leadership and back-office team in August. After serving for 21 years as the “public face” of the organization, participating in public events, conferences, interviews, and other public fora, I stepped back from this public role at the end of December, while continuing my role as Executive Director, guiding the organization and supporting the staff, board, and membership. This will allow me to focus on personal projects and dedicate more time to my growing family.
As part of this change, Dr. Katherine Pettus was promoted to Senior Advocacy and Partnerships Director and Ms. Genevieve Napier to Senior Operations Officer. Both Dr. Pettus and Ms. Napier, hired in 2014 and 2015 respectively, are committed to the IAHPC vision and mission, and are well recognized by the global palliative care community. Together, they will act as the public face of the organization, along with the directors, advisers, and other IAHPC officers, as appropriate. Lukas will continue as Chair of the board of directors.
The IAHPC’s mission continues unchanged: to serve as a global platform that inspires, informs, and empowers individuals, governments, and organizations to increase access and optimize the practice of palliative care.
We could not have achieved all the above and much more without the generous support of our board of directors, members, donors, and the foundations and other organizations that contribute in so many ways. All our donors and supporters believe in IAHPC’s mission and share our vision of a world free of health-related suffering. Your generosity also helps keep most of our content free to palliative care workers in areas with fewer resources, so please consider making a gift to IAHPC through our website. Our ability to actualize this vision without incurring conflicts of interest largely depends on the support we receive from our members and readers.
A healthy and peaceful new year to everyone.