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Fifth International Public Health and Palliative Care conference takes place in Canada

Author: Melanie Hodson
10 November 2017

Melanie Hodson, Information Specialist at Hospice UK, writes about attending the International Public Health and Palliative Care conference held in Canada, which provided an inspirational platform for work taking place around the world to embed health-promoting palliative care.

Strength in partnership

A breath-taking son et lumière show on Ottawa’s Parliament Hill struck a fitting prelude to the International Public Health and Palliative Care conference. Illuminating Canada’s history, the Northern Lights spectacle provided a narrative told through five thematic ‘books’. The second of these books was about ‘Strength in partnership’ – a theme which resonated in the days that followed as delegates at the conference heard of initiatives from around the world which have founded their success on partnership approaches.

Palliative care is public health

The three-day conference from Public Health Palliative Care International (PHPCI) in partnership with the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and Pallium Canada provided the opportunity for more than 300 delegates from 33 countries to network and join together to learn from a rich and international mix of workshops, plenaries, oral and poster presentations. The conference programme centred on five themes: building public policies that support health; creating participatory community partnerships; strengthening sustainable community partnerships; evaluation and performance; and reorienting/engaging environments to be responsive to death, dying, loss and bereavement.

Addressing the first of these themes, the plenary from Dr. Ross Upshur reflected upon the close alignment of palliative care and public health; a new way of thinking which requires a need for ‘imaginative collaboration’ along with champions and leaders to bring about change. 

Dr Zipporah Ali’s plenary on creating participatory community partnerships in Kenya asked how we can engage our communities to own and be part of palliative care. Patients’ voices, along with community leaders’ engagement, advocacy and health systems integration are important to effect change, but ultimately delegates were reminded of the power of engaged local communities; “if it does not happen in the community, it does not happen.” 

The final day of conference rolled around all too quickly and delegates returned home buzzing with ideas and connections, inspired by Prof. Allan Kellehear’s reminder that “we are involved in a progressive and civic movement which is the future of end of life care.”

Presentations from ‘Palliative care is public health; principles to practice’ are available on the conference’s website

Get involved

The sixth Public Health Palliative Care International conference will be held in Sydney in 2019.

Public Health Palliative Care International (PHPCI) considers death, dying, loss and care to be everyone's responsibility. PHPCI seeks to promote practice learning, professional support, and facilitate local and international communication between members around the world in their individual attempts at embedding a public health approach to the practice of palliative care. Find out more and how you can get involved at  PHPCI

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