IAHPC Scholars are asked to share the benefits of their chosen educational event. These reports are from four who attended the 7th Public Health Care International Conference, held in Bruges, Belgium, in September.
Irena Laska, palliative care nurse & executive director, Family Healthcare Association
I have been part of many activities, conferences, and congresses about palliative care, which is becoming more and more necessary all over the world. But the issues addressed at this conference were a new and extraordinary experience for me.
As a leader in palliative care, seeing the research presented on the role of all actors and the community in developing palliative care services and improving quality of care helped me to reflect that, parallel to the services we offer, we should do more research and make the service accessible to anyone and everywhere. Advocacy requires a lot of research, which helps uncover the problems and needs of patients and families. Furthermore, the services we provide should be measurable and monitorable.
As a lecturer, this experience helped me to increase my knowledge not only about clinical issues, but also about psychosocial and spiritual ones, both for patients and their families. I will promote student involvement in research along these lines, to have an impact on increasing the quality of health services and ensuring the well-being of people in need of palliative care.
Being part of every plenary session, as well as workshops and other sessions, strengthened my understanding that those of us who work in palliative care have the obligation to advocate for it as an important and necessary service, and advocate for its integration into the entire public health service.
This experience gave me a stronger voice, and armed me with more facts and arguments to press for improved palliative care in Albania.
"Palliative care: it is more than you think." This was an expression written in one of the plenary presentations that stuck in my mind. Yes, palliative care is care, dedication, compassion, involvement, respect, and dignity—not only for patients in need of it, but also for their families/caregivers. Palliative care is everything that people in need are looking for.
Natalia Carafizi, family physician & executive director, Foundation Hospice Angelus Moldova
The conference was not an ordinary experience of learning the new tactics for symptom control, setting up a palliative care service, or describing clinical experiences with incurable patients and their families: this conference offered more. Palliative care is impossible to understand without acceptance of the total life circle, including acknowledgment of death and dying. Presenters and participants of this public health forum proved that attitudes toward palliative care are similar, but approaches can be different.
In the society where I live and work, these issues cannot be discussed openly with everyone. The conference revealed how other countries, where palliative care is more developed, can provide a service that is holistically organized. How it can be not only focused on the medical component, but also be a significant part of society, culture, education, and religion. There are no forbidden issues in palliative care. It can be discussed without fear, and every session was proof of that.
I have shared what I learned with the colleagues from our national association of palliative care, which is the main promoter and actual planner of palliative care strategies and policies in Moldova. We do realize that it isn’t easy to change society’s attitudes about such sensitive issues as death, dying, grief, and mourning, but it’s a good time to start thinking about how it can be done, with projects involving non-medical institutions and local communities.
Gerla Koleci, hematologist & palliative care doctor, Mary Potter Palliative Center, Family Healthcare Association
Participation in this event of health professionals at a very young age was something special. Experts in the field from well-known universities presented their studies, which involved research connecting health with palliative care as well as input from all actors: patients, their families, caregivers, and volunteers.
What I found very special was learning ways to educate a community about the care that should be provided for people, and how to help care for caregivers. Lecturers and participants made the activity more interesting and interactive by contributing their experience and expertise.
As part of the palliative care team in Korçë, I will try to use all the experience and knowledge gained during this conference while working with colleagues and patients.
Maria Fidelis Manalo, MD, consultant & faculty, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Far Eastern University-Nicanor Reyes Medical Center
Pasig, Manila, Philippines
The opportunity to present my paper and to listen and learn from colleagues around the world increased my knowledge and understanding of compassionate communities, grief, bereavement, death literacy, advocacy, and policy-making on end-of-life care.
As a faculty and consultant in two university hospitals, I intend to share what I have learned from this public health conference with my colleagues, residents, fellows, medical students, and nurses to improve patient care and promote public health palliative care.
Speaker at session: Free Communication: Culture, Philosophy and Spirituality
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