Conference Report

The net effect: spanning diseases, crossing borders—highlights from the fourth triennial APCA conference and annual HPCA conference for palliative care

5 Nov 2013
J Downing, E Namisango, F Kiyange, E Luyirika, L Gwyther, S Enarson, J Kampi, Z Sithole, E Kemigisha-Ssali, M Masclee, I Mukasa

The African Palliative Care Association (APCA) jointly hosted its triennial palliative care conference for Africa with the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of South Africa (HPCA) on 17–20 September 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the heart of the conference stood a common commitment to see patient care improved across the continent. The theme for the conference, ‘The Net Effect: Spanning Diseases, Crossing Borders’, reflected this joint vision and the drive to remember the ‘net effect’ of our work in palliative care—that is, the ultimate impact of the care that we provide for our patients and their families across the disease and age spectrum and across the borders of African countries. The conference, held in Johannesburg, brought together 471 delegates from 34 countries. The key themes and messages from the conference are encapsulated in ten ‘C’s of commitment to political will and support at the highest levels of governance; engaging national, regional, and international bodies; collaboration; diversity; palliative care for children; planning for human resources and capacity building; palliative care integration at all levels; developing an evidence base for palliative care in Africa; using new technologies; and improved quality of care. Participants found the conference to be a forum that challenged their understanding of the topics presented, as well as enlightening in terms of applying best practice in their own context. Delegates found a renewed commitment and passion for palliative care and related health interventions for children and adults with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses within the region. This conference highlighted many of the developments in palliative care in the region and served as a unique opportunity to bring people together and serve as a lynchpin for palliative care provision and development in Africa. The delegates were united in the fact that together we can ‘span diseases,’ ‘cross borders,’ and realise the ‘African Dream’ for palliative care.

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