Dr Michael Minton on the IAPC Conference

2017 February 25
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Michael Minton, Palliative Care doctor and long-term friend of Indian palliative care from Oxford, UK, writes about the 24th Indian Association of Palliative Care conference (IAPCON), 10-12 th February 2017 in Coimbatore:

It has always been a pleasure to attend the annual IAPC conferences over the last 18 years and observe the ever increasing growth and maturity of the event. This year was no exception and the combination of the Coimbatore team led by Dr Balaji and the scientific programme led by Dr Chitra Venkateswaran proved to be a winning partnership. Attention to detail was the order of the day.

The venue was spacious and allowed everyone to have easy access to all the presentations so important when one has parallel sessions. Equally important and achieved was space and visibility for the poster presentations in the appropriate location which was where everyone gathered for refreshments and to network. I make no excuse for highlighting the importance of location as it is critical to provide equality of access to all the components of the conference.

For this reason I could move around the presentations and posters freely although obviously with 3 parallel sessions I could only appreciate a third of the conference at most.

The conference opened with a confident overview of the progress of PC in India from the current president Dr Mary Ann Muckaden. It was outward looking, highlighting achievements, while acknowledging the ever present challenges. There feels to be a forward momentum in the country finally reflecting the hard work of the IAPC over the last 25 years.

The content of the conference similarly was progressive with a wide range of topics from the palliative care needs of people effected by natural disasters e.g. the Nepal earthquake, to the ever-increasing volume of refugees in the world and then the needs of marginalised communities such as the elderly, abused and transgender people.

There was, of course, traditional sessions e.g. symptom control, education, mental health, and psycho-social needs for both children and adults. This included topics that recognised the interests of volunteers. I would love to know how the volunteers evaluate these conferences?

The theme of each parallel session was clearly identified and one that I attended on qualitative research was well planned and exemplified the value of linking the 3 presentations into a coherent progression of knowledge.

One should never underestimate the work involved in preparing a talk or poster especially when it is your first conference. So it is valuable to receive questions and feedback. As there is always a shortage of time in sessions for questions and many feel intimidated by the enormity of the audience, it would be helpful for all presenters to highlight their email addresses and maybe the organisers could consider identifying a space in the refreshment area where the speakers would be following their session to answer questions.

This year there were over a thousand delegates, a tremendous achievement by the organisers, but a challenge for the delegates trying to locate a speaker!

However, as I have mentioned, the posters were very visible and given good promotion by identifying the refreshment sessions as also a “Poster Walk”.

Good ideas like this reflected the planning and thoughtfulness of the organisers. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Coimbatore. Well done to all those involved.

For more details of the conference and a post conference video, visit: www.iapcon2017cbe.com


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