IAHPC Partners Celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day — Part 2 of #WHPCDay2020 blog

It is my very great privilege, and my daily inspiration, to share my life with friends and colleagues who provide palliative care around the world, sometimes against all the odds, and certainly against the prevailing global health ideology, where only lives that are saved count. Below is just a small sample of the reports IAHPC received from our Advocacy Focal Points and Board members around the world. For more information and reports see Ehospice and the WHPCA World Day website.

Our IAHPC Focal Point in Kenya, Dr. Zipporah Ali, founder and Executive Director of the Kenya Hospices and Care Association, sent a link to KTNN’s TV news story describing the benefits of palliative care and highlighting Nairobi hospice. The hospice nurse told the audience that an estimated 1 million Kenyans need PC but only 10% of adults and 1% children have access. gave several newspaper interviews that resulted in big stories! Dr. Zippy also presented on a panel on palliative and dementia care on Monday, October 11 with Dr. Stephen Connor of the WHPCA and Justin Derbyshire of Help Age, among other civil society leaders.

It is a blessing to have colleagues who care and work for the integration of palliative care into dementia care. Such a revolution of tenderness, according to Pope Francis, in public discourse is the connective tissue of kinship, according to Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, founder and director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the biggest gang intervention project in the world and winner of this year’s Templeton Prize. Dr. Connor also released the updated version of the WHPCA Atlas, an essential tool for global palliative care advocacy, which published the data from the Lancet Commission on Pain and Palliative Care.

IAHPC Focal Point for Bangladesh Dr. Rumana Dowla, sent a screenshot of the session palliative care colleagues held on Pulse, a virtual telemedicine platform and application offering 24/7 video consultation with doctors and healthcare providers in Bangladesh.

IAHPC Board member Harmala Gupta reported from Delhi that “On the 10th, CanSupport too held a programme on a national TV channel in which health ministers from five states and a health advisor from another participated. They discussed palliative care and its relevance on a public platform for possibly the first time. So yes, a small but important beginning has been made.”

Harmala also published an editorial in the Times of India entitled “Medicine’s neglected half: The relevance of palliative care is growing. In Covid times, it can provide total care.” Dr. Sushma Bhatnagar, President of the India Association of Palliative Care and IAHPC Advocacy Focal Point sent in a YouTube video documenting their activities.

In the Caribbean, IAHPC Board member Dr. Dingle Spence in Jamaica shared a YouTube link declaring CARIPALCA’s support for the “clarion call of PC around the world of all who need it!” She presents the IAHPC consensus based definition of palliative care, dispelling the myth that PC is “only for the dying” by describing the benefits of early integration. Dr. Natalie Greaves of the University of the West Indies cited evidence that most people in the Caribbean will die from one or more chronic diseases, which palliative care can be very helpful for. Nonetheless, she said, PC services in the Caribbean were very sparse. 

Also in the Americas, Panama’s palliative care team at the government’s Social Security Institute took to Twitter posting short videos and interviews such as this one. Not to be outdone, the Costa Rican Social Security office took to Facebook to discuss palliative care in that country, where it is very well integrated. And finally, the El Salvador and Argentina palliative care associations issued informative press releases inviting policy makers and media contacts to ‘come and see’ what they were doing and share in the festivities.

The Palliative Care Association of Uganda celebrated with the Irish Ambassador to Uganda, William Carlos and Rev. Cannon Gideon Byamugisha, with a zoom webinar and Facebook feed. For more information on HAU’s wonderful work and professional training programs see their website.

Last but not least, Dr. Mwate Joseph Chaila, IAHPC Focal Point for Zambia sent a report from the “multi-disciplinary team of health workers at Livingstone Central Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospice, and St. Francis Home Based Care. This team endeavours to improve the provision of palliative care for people with life limiting illnesses that are compounded by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and increasing cancers and other non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardiac failure, disability, etc. in Livingstone, Southern Province and Zambia as a whole.” The Zambia team had two radio interviews, and visited patients at the hospice and at home, distributing donations of foodstuffs to patients and families.

They captioned this photo “Team members filled with joy as they go back to their homes” Report by Munkombwe Wisdom Muleya, Chair person of the Livingstone PC Team. For more information contact wisdommunkombwe@gmail.com

What is most hopeful, and what was very apparent on World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, October 10, 2020, is that we are a global, hyper-connected movement of professionals, patients, families, and some friendly governments! We promote a cosmopolitan and egalitarian narrative that prioritizes multilateral commitments, including human rights, and insist that palliative care should be high quality, universal, and accessible before any government considers legalizing practices of euthanasia or physician assisted dying. In fact, the trail from the bedside to the halls of power is lit with this hope, which treats life’s grand finale with as much care as its grand entrance.