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Conference Report

Cancer and palliative care in COVID-19 and other challenging situations – highlights from the Uganda Cancer Institute – Palliative Care Association of Uganda 3rd Uganda Conference on Cancer and Palliative Care, 23–24 September 2021, held in Kampala, Uganda and virtually

13 Dec 2021
Julia Downing, Nixon Niyonzima, Eddie Mwebesa, Innocent Mutyaba, Lisa Christine Irumba, Ludoviko Zirimenya, Diana Basirika, Immacula Mbarusha, Charity Kobusingye, Margaret Happy, Alfred Jatho, Dorothy Olet Adong, Cynthia Kabagambe, Collins Mpamani, Zaitun Nalukwago, Zipporah Kyomuhangi, Joyce Zalwango, Jackson Orem, Mark Mwesiga

The 3rd Uganda Conference on Cancer and Palliative Care was held in September 2021 with the theme: cancer and palliative care in COVID-19 and other challenging situations. It was hosted by the Uganda Cancer Institute and the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (UCI-PCAU). The conference was held virtually, with a mix of pre-recorded sessions, plenary sessions being broadcast live on television (TV) by the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation TV, live speakers at the studio and others presenting in real time via Zoom. The conference brought together >350 participants who participated on Zoom, along with those attending in person at the studio and those watching the plenary sessions on TV. At the heart of this joint UCI-PCAU conference was the commitment to not only continue but to improve the provision of cancer care and palliative care within Uganda. Key themes from the conference included: the importance of Universal Health Coverage; the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of cancer and palliative care; that both cancer care and palliative care are available in Uganda; education for all; the importance of working together to provide care and overcome challenges, e.g. through technology; the resilience shown by those working in cancer and palliative care; the grief experienced by so many people who have lost loved ones during the pandemic; the importance of good health seeking behaviour – prevention is better than cure; the challenge of funding; the need for health care equity for marginalised and vulnerable populations and finally we can’t wait for the world to stop COVID-19 – COVID-19 is here to stay – we need to find solutions. The last few years have seen significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, despite this, cancer and palliative care service provision has continued. This conference, whilst unique and very different from previous conferences, was a great opportunity to share not only amongst each other, but also to share key messages with the public through the live broadcasting of the plenary sessions of the conference.

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