Dr Tania Pastranais a Colombian medical doctor working as a researcher in the Department of Palliative Medicine, RWTH Aachen, Germany
The VI Latin American Congress of Palliative Care took place from 15 to 17 March in Curitiba, South Brazil. The congress attracted 728 people involved in palliative care, coming from 30 different countries (predominantly from Latin America but also Africa, Europe and Asia) and different disciplines (mostly medical doctors). We shared knowledge and experiences as well as looking for cooperation, new ideas and inspiration.
The principal themes of the conference were organisational issues such as legislations, creating new associations, developing new clinical programmes and exchanging ideas on educational curriculum. All these topics reflect the early stage of the building up of palliative care in the region. There was also an important focus on psychosocial aspects and spirituality, with recognition of the importance of cultural issues.
Of course, medical issues were also present at the congress. A new handbook for Latin America called ‘Use of Opioids in the Treatment of Pain’ was launched, which was written and edited by Latin American authors.
The models developed in Europe are not transferable to Latin America without change. The cultural background characterised by a strong familism, the poor financial resources for programmes and poor interest from government make a different and challenged field. Latin America has to look for its own models of care at the end of life that are appropriate to the reality of the setting.
The participation of Sheila Payne and Sebastiano Mercadante, who delivered plenary talks, gave an international character and reflected the wish to link with European developments. Latin American leaders living in the USA, such as Eduardo Bruera and Liliana De Lima, were also present, giving inspiring presentations.
The congress took place in a professional environment and at the same time was full of Latin American happiness! The ‘Dinner of Nations’ allowed everyone to express their joy and display their dancing skills.