SIG Cancer and Palliative Care -Rio workshop and future plans

Annette Berendsen, Convenor of WONCA's Special Interest Group on Cancer and Palliative Care, updates us on activities in Rio and plans for 2017-2018

Rio preconference workshop

The Rio pre-conference of the WONCA SIG on Cancer and Palliative care attracted a large group, including many Brazilians eager to hear about palliative care in the community internationally.

Prof Geoff Mitchell first welcomed everyone and explained the vision of the SIG and of the International Primary Palliative Care Network which had members in every continent.

Prof Scott Murray then highlighted the recent WHO manual on integrating palliative care in all settings, especially the community. He had contributed to this very useful manual which spells out how palliative care can be integrated in primary care in various high, middle and low income countries.

Then Dr Santiago Correa illustrated how his project in Brazil works so that others could learn from it. This was received very enthusiastically. The new President of WONCA, Professor Amanda Howe, visited the special interest group and encouraged us to continue over the next few years in this priority area for primary care.

During the WONCA conference itself we held a “basics of palliative care” session for GPs which lasted three hours. Daniel Azevedo and Claudia Buria, both from Brazil, presented in a very dynamic fashion key issues about identifying and helping people with frailty and dementia. Geoff Mitchell then gave a clear basic talk on symptom control. Again there was much enthusiasm around this. Slides will be available on 

On the last day of the WONCA World conference there was a special panel on palliative care when we heard presentations from Geoff Mitchell (summarising palliative care in Latin America using a presentation from Dr Liliana deLima (USA), Maria Goretti Sales (Brazil), Thomas Martin (Costa Rica), and Santiago Correa (Brazil) In closing, Scott Murray (UK) who showed a four minute video giving a four dimensional rationale for early palliative care which was well received, and which soon should be available as a teaching aid for students and postgraduate teaching for nurses, doctors and allied health professionals.

There will be great opportunities for further palliative care input at WONCA in Seoul in 2018 and in regional conferences before then.

2017-18 Plans

In 2017-18 our SIG plans to recruit more members, and maintain a strong advocacy for family physicians to play an increasing role in the care of people with cancer and also people who would benefit from a palliative care approach, independent of their illness. The group will highlight the practical nature of the WHO 2016 publication on Integrating palliative care in all settings, especially in the community.

We will try to hold meetings at regional and world WONCA meetings, and also at Palliative care and Cancer conference to explain our role to specialists.

In 2017, we will run a workshop on cancer survivorship at WONCA Prague in June 2017. Annette Berendsen and David Weller have taken the lead on this. We expect this workshop to be a success as they usually are. However, we find it a bit harsh to invite speakers who have to pay the full congress fee.

We hope to intensify the collaboration with The Cancer and Primary Care Research International Network (Ca-PRI).

After running a jointly-badged all-day workshop with Ca-PRI at the European Cancer Congress (ECCO) in Amsterdam January 28, we hope for an on-going collaboration because the all-day workshop was very successful and well-attended.

David Weller is organising a conference in April 2017 in Scotland to which all WONCA members are most welcome.

Some members of the palliative sub-group of Scott Murray have produced a video that they are translating into different languages to explain a rationale for early palliative care. They decided it was a very useful educational tool for GPs, so it is now published and a podcast in the BMJ. And also available on Facebook. They plan to do a further blog for WONCA to alert members about it.

We were invited by the European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer (ECIBC) for a meeting at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra to explore possible collaboration. This meeting will take place in May 2017.
Meanwhile the SIG and International Palliative Care Network are going ahead to help different countries to integrate palliative care in primary care, using the Toolkit developed by the EAPC Taskforce and WONCA in 2016.

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