Special Report

Volume 24, Number 11: November 2023

APHC 2023: Expanding the horizons of palliative care in a new era

IAHPC Board Member Prof. Maria Cigolini and Dr. Christante Effendy (2nd and 3rd from left) with delegates from Indonesia. Photo used with permission.

By Prof Maria Cigolini, palliative medicine physician
IAHPC board member; assistant professor of medicine, University of Sydney, Australia

The 15th Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Conference, held October 4-7, 2023, took place in Korea’s vibrant international hub of Incheon; a fitting venue where past, present, and future coexist with respectful cultural harmony. 

The conference delivered a culturally rich and instructive program of workshops and plenary sessions covering integrative models of care, symptoms, quality outcomes, and culturally relevant psychosocial and spiritual care. It was an honor to experience attendees' passion and dedication in creating or sustaining supportive and palliative care, using person-centered and compassionate communities principles for their patients in all resource settings.

Four IAHPC members were awarded scholarships to attend: their reports are in this issue's Grants in Action. 

Promoting collaborative research was a goal

Culture Played a Role

Culturally important workshops included tools to assess patients’ psychosocial and spiritual needs, supported by evidence of positive outcomes for patients, carers, and health care workers. Of particular interest was a workshop exploring how the concept of "demoralization" in hospice patients contributes to health-related suffering. Professor David Kissane showed how the  validated Psycho-existential Symptom Assessment Scale (PeSAS) is used in the clinical setting. One of the oral presentations outlined an evidence-positive systematic approach and outcomes for patients and health care staff from a culturally modified Nursing Care Plan for enhanced spiritual well-being.

A welcome performance included IAHPC Scholar Edmar Elcorte in Philippine traditional dress. Photo used with permission.

It was pleasing to see European Association for Palliative Care representatives actively seeking collaborative research and models for undergraduate education within the Asia Pacific region. It is a much-needed initiative to share knowledge and build expertise between higher-income and lower-income colleagues and nations.

The cultural program included performances by Korea’s creative and devoted music therapists as well as hospice attendants, including an enriching performance from Malaysian representatives such as IAHPC Scholar Dr. Nickolas Law.

Preparations are already underway for next year’s conference in Sarawak, 

Valuable presentations

Dr. Christante Effendy outlined the insightful and valuable experiences of health care professionals in providing home-based pediatric palliative care in Indonesia. In line with the theme of integrated service models, I presented the Australian Consensus Statement for the Hepatocellular Cancer, using a Delphi process and GRADE system of evidence to assist modelling of an integrate service for this rapidly growing patient cohort, inclusive of supportive and palliative care principles. (see below)

It was a privilege to meet the scholars and hear about their work and achievements to date. Edmar Elcorte from the Philippines presented on a basic-training evidence-based manual relevant for improving knowledge, skills, and attitudes in palliative and hospice care for both health and non-health care providers, which will be also presented at upcoming WHO meetings. Edmar also served as an IAHPC delegate at the 74th meeting of the WHO Western Pacific Region in Manila (see the Advocacy Report).

In appreciation of his role as an IAHPC representative, Elcarte said, "Our mission transcends borders and encapsulates a vision where health care is not merely a matter of treatment but a harmonious blend of compassion, holistic support, and preserving dignity amidst life's most challenging moments."

Read Cigolini's bio.

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