Vanessa Sherry, editor of the Canada edition of ehospice, caught up with Liliana de Lima at the 19th International congress for palliative care in Montreal this year.
Liliana De Lima is a native of Colombia, South America. In 1989, Ms De Lima founded La Vigain Colombia, a 52 bed inpatient hospice facility where she worked as Program Director for six years before moving to the United States. She has served as an advisor to the National Cancer Institute in Colombia, helping in the design and development of a palliative care in-patient unit, a liaison in supportive care for Latin America and the Caribbean by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and is an advisor to the Regional Cancer Control Program at PAHO. She also served as consultant in several World Health Organization (WHO) committees, including the Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines in 2007. Since 2000, she has been an affiliate of the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence.
Ms De Lima serves as an adviser to several programs and initiatives in the development of programs, strategies and policies to improve access to and availability of palliative care services and medications. In 2007, she coordinated the development of an essential list of medications for palliative care known as the IAHPC List Essential Medicines for Palliative Care.
She is the current president of the Latin American Palliative Care Association and has been the Executive Director of the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) since 1999.
What did you enjoy most about the International Congress?
I think that the nicest thing about the conference is the networking, and meeting people who work in palliative care all over the world. It is wonderful to see how they are all advancing hospice palliative care, and learning about their successes and challenges. Of course the plenaries and the sessions have been wonderful as always.
What led the IAHPC to think of the live streaming of webinars for hospice palliative care professionals who work in developing countries?
Basically the idea came out of the organizers working with McGill University, they came to us and we thought it would be a great initiative to fund. Originally it was only supposed to be for the pediatric seminars but we jumped in and extended it to all the major sessions. It is an exceptional opportunity for our colleagues in developing countries to be able to join us!
What do you think that delegates from around the world will bring back from this conference?
I hope that they do not only bring back the knowledge, but also the innovative ideas on how they can move forward. I also hope that the delegates have the opportunity to network and expand their connections. Hopefully they can use these connections to expand knowledge in their own communities and create more of an international perspective in their everyday work.
What do you think is the biggest issue we are facing for the future of palliative care internationally?
I think the issues we face internationally are very similar to those we face at the national level as well. Lack of recognition of palliative care as one of the essential components of care within the health care system is definitely a major issue we face, not just at the country level but at the international level. This is reflected not only in the level of funding, but also in the amount of programs at the national level. This lack of awareness really impacts the level of care in many countries.
Any words of wisdom for World Hospice Palliative Care Day?
We have been in awe of the great reaction and commitment to the World Hospice Palliative Care Day. This is really a great advocacy tool and the World Palliative Care Alliance is doing a great job of moving it forward. When you see the ripple effect considering they started only 5 years ago, it really shows how connected we are, and how eager we are to be united at the international level.
We are going to see this connectedness even more now that ehospice has launched, as we see hospice palliative care news and views from around the world! We are really excited to be a part of such a great initiative.