Grants in Action

Volume 23, Number 3: March 2022

Thirteen IAHPC Scholars attended the virtual 29th International Conference of the Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPCON) in February. A condition of their scholarship—which awarded them full access to the conference—is a post-event report. The remaining reports will be in the April issue of the newsletter. Note: Each photo was provided by the participant named; all are used with permission.

Meticulously Designed Scientific Program Lauded

Mayank Gupta, MD
Bathinda, Punjab

The 29th IAPCON was a perfect amalgamation of the art (compassion, humanity) and science (scientific evidence) in the field of palliative medicine. The four-day event, plus many pre-conference workshops and sessions, was an overwhelming experience. A meticulously designed scientific program caused people to toggle from one session to another in an effort not to miss anything.

No stone was left unturned to help improve knowledge (plenaries, sessions), skill (workshops), and attitude (long-time practitioners sharing decades of wisdom) of both seasoned and novice palliative care physicians alike.

This is a sample of key tactics learned that will be helpful in my clinical practice.

There is a gap between the need for accessible palliative care services in India and the supply of such services. The conference was an elaborate representation of achievements so far, and efforts being made at regional and national levels to close the gap.

The plethora of knowledge gained at the conference will help to address this gap in my area of practice, by establishing new palliative care services to help relieve suffering of innumerable patients.

We Shared Ways to Confront Challenges

Anu Savio Thelly, nurse consultant
Kottayam, India

Access to resources has been a big challenge to nurses working in palliative care. A session that I moderated, “Nurses in Action: Best Practices in Empathy and Empowerment,” covered cost-effective interventions for multiple settings. The session helped bring together many pioneering nurses who play lead roles nationally.

I am working to improve the auditing process and training activities in my institution, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute. We are also forming an advocacy group for ensuring the availability of essential opioids for the needy. Some of the conference sessions shared success stories, challenges, and barriers in improving drug availability in other parts of the country.

This conference facilitated discussions on challenges faced during the pandemic and measures taken to overcome them. When our region was badly hit by COVID-19, we were advised to close our hospital’s inpatient facility. Others were forced to do the same, but networking with experts has helped build a team to work on these challenges.

A big thank you, IAHPC, for the bursary. No other international association has contributed more to professional development, research and advocacy, focused on increasing access to quality care for patients suffering from advanced diseases.

I Appreciated the Virtual Format

K. Radhakrishna Menon
Aluva, Kerala, India

As vice-president of content development, training, and conferences for the National Association of Palliative Care for AYUSH and Integrative Medicine, I look forward to integrating the many lessons I learned from this conference.

Dr. Biju Raghavan introduced a session on “Sensitive Conversations.” Dr. K.C. Rajashree contributed by speaking on intimacy and sexuality, followed by Dr. Priyadarshini Kulkarni on the importance/relevance of intimacy in palliative care. Dr. Nidhi Patni gave a thoughtful presentation about barriers regarding intimacy in palliative care, and Dr. Biji M.S. concluded the session by discussing how best we, as palliative care practitioners and providers, can resolve the issue and make a difference.

I appreciated being able to select the topics of my choice and attend the conference from my home, which was both a comfort and a convenience. No extra effort was needed by way of travel, accommodation, or other expenses, and of course, a virtual conference completely allayed any fear of COVID-19.

I Gained New Perspectives on Many Topics

Shamali Poojary, MD
Mumbai, India

Being able to attend this conference helped me gain a new perspective about many topics I have been practicing. I will use this knowledge to undertake new research projects in my country. I had the opportunity to brush up my existing knowledge of symptom management and communication skills, which will help in improving overall patient care and satisfaction at Tata Memorial Hospital, where I practice.

Being able to hear esteemed international faculty speak is a privilege even if it is online: it is always inspiring.

Innovative Ideas Shared in Posters & Papers

Amit Gupta, MD
Rishikesh, India

The IAPCON 2022 conference included a myriad of topics, ranging from research, to academics in palliative care, to management of all symptoms. It has been very informative in improving clinical skills and patient care. There were so many innovative ideas shared through poster and paper presentations that showed the enthusiasm of participants: I learned a lot through them.

New Medicines & Skills Valuable to My Practice

Manjula Bhagavatula
Hyderabad, Telangana, India

In the city where I practice palliative care, no corporate hospital offers these services and patients are left to seek them on their own. I am a member of an NGO that provides palliative care services to the poor at no charge to them. I envision a future where both rich and poor have access to palliative services.

One barrier is the reality that palliative care is not offered to those who can afford it, because primary physicians rarely stop their treatments. I feel advocacy is needed to emphasize the value of palliative care, and that it need not be a last option. This virtual conference was very useful to update my palliative care skills.

The conference was personally valuable. For instance, I learned about some new medicines that can be used for symptom management, and there was a lecture on various situations where palliative care skills can be used.

Enthusiasm Generated for Concrete Plans in 2022

Sanghamitra Bora, MD
Guwahati, Assam, India

I learned a great deal at this virtual conference. Because of what I learned, I would like to introduce a Clinical Audit Cycle to improve upon our existing palliative care service. Sensitizing oncologists in my organization is the second step that will give access to more and more patients who are in need who could benefit from palliative care interventions. Physicians involved in providing general clinical care in my present organization shall be trained in palliative care basics, and that will leverage more and more trained people adopting a palliative care approach in treating patients. Finally, community awareness programs will be an important aspect of programs that I have planned throughout 2022.

It Helped Me Understand the Quality of Learning Needed

Shrenik Ostwal, MD
Indore, India

Attending IAPCON 2022 taught me newer developments in field of palliative care, strengthening and improving my knowledge. The quiz section in the conference helped me to understand the quality of learning needed for a palliative care physician like myself. Sessions like USG in palliative care, spirituality, and palliative care for non-oncological illnesses helped me a lot.

To find out more about IAHPC’s Program Support Grants, our Scholarships and Fellowships, please visit our website. Through these programs we support projects and individuals around the world, especially in low- and middle-income 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 Scholarships Campaign in the Global Giving website.

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