For the first time ever, palliative care featured in a neurology congress in Sri Lanka. Professor David Oliver, Honorary Professor at the University of Kent, UK, and Chair of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Reference Group on Neurology and Palliative Care, explains.
Over a long career inpalliative medicine in the UK I developed a special interest in neurological palliative care. This, combined with my role as Chair of the EAPC Reference Group on Neurology and Palliative Care, has led to many invitations over the years to international neurology congresses, including Africa, Australia, Europe, India – and now Sri Lanka. What is most encouraging is seeing how neurology in palliative care is receiving an increasingly high profile at global meetings.
At the end of February, I was delighted to be invited to speak at the 13th Annual Academic Sessions of the Association of Sri Lankan Neurologists – the first time that palliative care had been discussed at a neurology congress in Sri Lanka. The three-day meeting, held in Colombo, was organised under the presidency of Professor Thashi Chang.
At a pre-congress session I talked of the principles of palliative care and about palliative care for neurological patients. Attended by more than 250 people, including neurologists, physicians, trainees in neurology and medical students, the session was very successful with a high level of interest and evaluation.
Over the next two days I was able to share experiences with 250 neurologists and physicians within a wide programme, including presentations on a broad range of neurological conditions. The chief guest, Professor Angela Vincent FRS, from Oxford and London, spoke about her experiences within neurology and, in particular, in the immunology of myasthenia gravis. I led a session on ethical issues, considering the withholding and withdrawing of treatment at the end of life.
It was a privilege and pleasure to join in this meeting with other visiting speakers from the UK, Singapore and Australia. There was great interest in palliative care and I hope this will enable the neurologists to continue and strengthen their links with the developing palliative care services for non-cancer patients in Sri Lanka, so that patients and families will benefit.
The meeting was held in the shadow of the developing coronavirus crisis and one speaker from South Korea had to cancel his attendance at the meeting. Another speaker from Australia, who was unable to attend due to other issues, presented online through live streaming, which was very successful. There were social events with a spectacular display of a variety of Sri Lankan dances at the inauguration ceremony, and a lovely meal in the splendour of the former colonial governor’s residence, now a hotel.
It was a wonderful experience to join in such a positive meeting with enthusiastic practitioners, and share the role of palliative care at this time. I am sure that there will be further development and collaboration over the coming years.
Links and resources
- Contact Prof David Oliver by email.
- EAPC Neurology Reference Group – Palliative Care.
- Further reading: Oliver DJ,Borasio GD, Caraceni A, de Visser M, Grisold W, Lorenzl S, Veronese S, Voltz R. A consensus review on the development of palliative care for patients with chronic and progressive neurological disease. Eur J Neurol 2016;23: 30-38. doi:10.1111/ene.12889. (A summary of the consensus review is also available to download from the web page of the EAPC Neurology Reference Group).
- Read more posts on Neurology and Palliative Care on the EAPC blog.