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Making palliative care “as available as air” – updates from the 5th International African Palliative Care Conference

Author: Kate Jackson, ehospice
22 August 2016

The 5th International African Palliative Care conference was characterised by interesting and inspiring sessions and discussions bringing new ideas and solutions to some of the challenges that face hospice and palliative care at the local, regional and international level.

The event took place at Speke Resort, Munyonyo, Uganda between 16 and 19 August, and included the 2nd African Ministers of Health Session.

The Ministers Session was chaired by the Hon Dr Aceng Jane Ruth, Minister of Health of the Republic of Uganda, and the Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda declared both the Ministers Session and the Conference officially open.

After a productive discussion, the Ministers adopted the Kampala Declaration 2016, a consensus statement for strengthening palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course in Africa.

Dr Liz Gwyther, chair of the WHPCA board of directors, spoke on behalf of all those working in hospice and palliative care in Africa, saying that she was really impressed by the leadership of the African Union and their call to hold our governments accountable. 

Professor Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur for the Right to Health, United Nations Human Rights Council gave an inspiring address, saying that although the Right to Health mandate is a wide one with many competing priorities, for him “palliative care is among these priorities.”

An excellent scientific programme of plenaries, workshops and oral and poster presentations shared the work being done in Africa and around the world to bring hospice and palliative care to people and their families in need.

The three main plenaries hosted 21 speakers, and were translated from English into French. The four conference tracks encompassed 51 Papers, 15 Workshops and eight ‘Meet the Experts’ sessions.

The African Palliative Care Research Network (APCRN) ran a capacity building workshop, and reviewed progress in hospice and palliative care research in Africa since the last meeting in 2013.

A workshop on accelerating palliative care development in West Africa brought together delegates from Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo to discuss common strengths and challenges, and to discuss a strategy for moving forward with palliative care in the region.

The poster sessions hosted 112 posters over the two days, with authors from 22 countries. During the breaks in the programme, delegates had the opportunity for discussion with the authors. Topics presented included: models of care, indicators, partnerships, education, and many more.

Global Palliative Care Achievement awards were presented to: Dr Joan Marston, outgoing CEO of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network, Professor Scott Murray, St Columba's Hospice Chair of Primary Palliative Care, Primary Palliative Care Research Group  at the University of Edinburgh, and Dr Amandua Jacinto, Director of Clinical Services at the Ugandan Ministry of Health.

Recurring themes discussed at the conference included:

  • Funding and resources for hospice and palliative care
  • Leadership
  • Children’s palliative care
  • Access to medicines essential for hospice and palliative care
  • Partnerships
  • Legal issues; and
  • Communication.

Delegates noted that, as well learning and sharing through the official schedule, the value of the conference lay in informal meetings. The conference enabled colleagues working in different professional and geographic areas to update each other on their work, and to plan for future collaborations.

The presentations from the 5th International African Palliative Care Conference will be available to download from the conference website by 10 September this year. 

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