Professor Phil Larkin, President of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC), and Professor David Oliver, EAPC Board member, were invited to the 3rd International Congress of the Peruvian Society of Palliative Care in Lima, Peru, on 12 to 13 October 2018. Here, they tell us a little of what went on at the congress and some of the main challenges facing palliative care in Latin America.
The congress, entitled ‘Palliative Care in Latin America’, brought together nearly 1,000 people from all over Latin America. Professor Roman Rolke, from Aachen, Germany, was chairman, working closely with the Grünenthal Foundation for Palliative Medicine in Germany, which had sponsored not only the speakers but also all the participants.
The congress followed a high-level meeting of politicians and professionals involved in palliative care across Latin America. This facilitated discussion and understanding of palliative care and several politicians and representatives from universities attended the main two-day congress as well.
Many aspects of palliative care were discussed over the two days with speakers from Latin America, Europe and the USA. Many countries face two opioid crises: a lack of availability and accessibility to the provision of opioids, together with fears of opioid abuse and overdose, which has been discussed in the USA. The median per capita use of morphine is seven mg, compared to a global average of 61mg. The costs of morphine are very variable. In Honduras, it has been estimated that an average worker would have to work for 73 days to earn enough to buy a month’s supply of morphine. There is increasing action to increase accessibility for pain control, but significant challenges remain. There are increasing opportunities for education and the Grünenthal Foundation for Palliative Medicine has sponsored two interdisciplinary masters courses in Peru.
We both contributed to the programme. Phil talked on both the experience of the EAPC in Europe and the contribution of nursing in palliative care practice, education and research. He highlighted the fact that palliative care as a human right is a call to a socially just society which treats not just the clinical but also social need, reflecting the challenges of people living in poverty and with access to resources to sustain care.
David spoke on the developing role of palliative care in neurology and the role of the multidisciplinary approach in the care of this patient group. Other sessions looked at paediatric palliative care, pain management, education, end of life, research and caregiver support. The participants appreciated the programme and left with a real excitement in developing palliative care across the area.
It was a real privilege to join this amazing meeting of so many people from across Latin America. There was a true feeling of excitement and enthusiasm to develop palliative care across the continent and a true sharing of experiences from across the globe. There was a multidisciplinary approach and audience, including policy makers, universities and politicians.
More about the authors
Professor Phil Larkin is President of the European Association for Palliative Care and Chair and Professor of Palliative Nursing, Lausanne, Switzerland. Listen to the President’s video message on the EAPC website. Contact Prof Larkin by email.
Professor David Oliver is a member of the European Association for Palliative Care Board of Directors and Chair of the EAPC Reference Group on Neurology. He is an honorary professor at the University of Kent, UK. Contact Prof Oliver by email.
Links and resources
- The Peruvian Society of Palliative Care (SPCP) La Sociedad Peruana de Cuidados Paliativos (SPCP)
- The Latin American Association for Palliative Care (ALCP).
- The Atlas of Palliative Care in Latin America (Pastrana T, De Lima L, Wenk R, Eisenchlas J, Monti C, Rocafort J, Centeno C. (2012). Atlas de Cuidados Paliativos de Latinoamérica ALCP. 1a edición. Houston: IAHPC Press. ISBN 978-0-9834597-2-9.(Download a copy here).
Read more posts from Phil Larkin and David Oliver on the EAPC blog