Final preparations are underway this week for a conference on the 9thand 10thof August hosted by Cairdeas and the Makerere & Mulago Palliative Care Unit (MMPCU). Taking place in Makerere University, Kampala, the two-day event will formally mark 10 years of partnership working between the closely linked organisations.
An international panel will speak on the theme of: ‘Building Momentum for Palliative Care’. Delegates will look back on what has been achieved to advance the cause of palliative care in the preceding decade, whilst also looking forward and planning for a future of enhanced palliative care and greater global health equality for all.
From Scotland, India, Sudan, Rwanda, USA and Uganda, delegates will speak on policy, practice and research, showcasing the cutting-edge, evidence-based palliative care practice that has been making an impact in Uganda and elsewhere.
One of the conference guests and keynote speakers will be Dr MR Rajagopal. Dr Rajagopal has worked tirelessly since the early 90’s to establish palliative care and pain relief for many millions in India. Starting his work in Calicut, Kerala he is currently based in Trivandrum, Kerala but reaches a global audience.
Conference coordinator, Mhoira Leng, Medical Director of Cairdeas and Head of Palliative Care for the Mulago and Makerere Palliative Care Unit, said, “It will be a great honour to welcome Dr Rajagopal to our conference. He is a humble yet inspiring man. Many will know him as the ‘Father of Palliative Care in India’ and I am honoured to count him as a friend.”
Dr Rajagopal’s work has influenced changes to Indian law on access to pain control. He has affected national and state policy to the benefit of chronically ill patients and their families. He founded Pallium India (www.pallium.org), has authored many books, received awards and accolades (the Padma Shri Awards 2018 and a nomination for the Nobel Peace prize), and his work has been featured on film: http://hippocraticfilm.com/
The voices of patients, their families, and volunteers will also be heard at the conference as those affected will explain, first hand, how values-based, person centred care has had a profound impact on their lives. Themes such as palliative care and mental health, palliative care and refugees, and palliative care and the elderly will all be explored. Cairdeas’ Christian ethos will, of course, be in evidence at the conference with an input on, ‘spiritual narratives within palliative care’.
Andy Smith, Chairman of Cairdeas, spoke of his pride in what has been achieved in the last 10 years. “Together, Cairdeas and the Makerere & Mulago Palliative Care Unit have cared for almost 10,000 patients, trained 4,500 health workers from nine counties and published over 50 research papers, not to mention almost 200 abstracts. Whilst these are impressive figures, for me the impact of the team’s work is encapsulated by Swaibu, who told us: ‘When I see you coming with the team I feel so much better. God has answered my prayers and I know that he cares for me. I no longer feel angry and sad. I can sleep at night instead of crying. I now have hope. Thank you.’”
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Conference Venue: Davis Lecture Theatre, Deans Gardens, College of Health Sciences, Mulago Hospital, Uganda.