Franco De Conno, a member of the Sardinian-European Meeting of Palliative Care and Honorary Director of the European Association for Palliative Care. Franco explains how an idea, supported by EAPC board members and others, has led to an important annual conference that is contributing to the development of palliative care in Sardinia.
Five years ago my life changed radically. I retired from my hospital and went to live in Sardinia for most of the year. Sardinia is a fantastic place: an Italian island in the Mediterranean with a population of about three million. But there was one big problem for me: palliative care had not yet spread very far. I had been professionally engaged in palliative care for 30 years so, together with my wife, Heidi Blumhuber (CEO of the EAPC), we started to think what we could do to improve palliative care for patients in Sardinia.
The opportunity came in 2008 as we were organising a board meeting of the European Association for Palliative Care in Sardinia. Why not take advantage of the fact that some of the key practitioners and major researchers in palliative care were here together in Sardinia and organise a conference? So we contacted some Sardinian colleagues, including Gualtiero Atzei, Chiara Musio, Roberto Pisano, Tonio Sollai and Salvatore Salis. As the board meeting was being held in Budoni it was easy to ask the mayor of the city, Gianni Nieddu, if, at the same time, we could use the auditorium for the conference. The local people were very kind and offered their support free of charge.
At that first meeting in 2008, many Italian health scientists took part, as well as palliative care researchers and practitioners from other parts of Europe, including Maria Nabal, Per Sjøgren, Stein Kaasa, Phil Larkin, Sheila Payne and Lukas Radbruch. The regional chief of the Ministry of Health, and more then 100 health professionals from Sardinia, took part.
Encouraged by the initial success, the group decided to continue its work organising further meetings in Nuoro, San Gavino Monreale, Alghero and Cagliari. In Nuoro alone, we had more than 300 participants. Because of the relatively low density of population in Sardinia, and the urgent need to increase and improve awareness and knowledge of palliative care in the region, it was important to hold the conference in different places so that as many local caregivers as possible could attend.
This meeting has now become an annual event for all those interested in palliative care. Although the EAPC board has not returned recently to Sardinia, we still continue to invite experts from abroad to take part in the international session of our network meetings. Franco Pala, a physician from Olbia and a founding member of our faculty, was so enthusiastic about the meeting that he has proposed to host it in Olbia on the northeast coast of Sardinia this year. So the sixth meeting of the Sardinian-European Meeting of Palliative Care will be held in Olbia on 8-9 November 2013. For this congress Per Sjøgren, (Vice President of the EAPC), Stein Kaasa (Chairman of the Research Network of the EAPC) and Irene Higginson (Co-Chair of the 14th World Congress of the EAPC) will participate in the European session.
One of the most encouraging and positive results from our previous activities is that opioid consumption has improved in the past five years. And now the Sardinians are determined to develop palliative care within their local health system.
To find out more…
The Sixth Sardinian-European Meeting of Palliative Care will be held in Olbia, Sardinia, 8-9 November 2013. For information and registration details please contact Chiara Demeglio, MC Relazioni Pubbliche SRL, by email, tel: +39 (0)79 299 660, or visit the website.