Palprac’s first AGM, 10 June 2019

The first Palprac AGM was hosted on the 10th June 2019 at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town.

Members attended from all parts of the country. After a year of connecting online and via social media, many met face to face for the first time. Others were happy to reunite with long lost colleagues again.

Drs Mark Hosking and Mike Brown led the academic session with case presentations and discussion around complex pain management and in particular the role of methadone. This was followed by a thought provoking talk by dr David Cameron on the history and ethics of euthanasia.

The AGM was led by chairperson dr David Cameron. He thanked the board of 2018 who managed collectively to get Palprac up and running. The new 12 person strong board, all of whom had volunteered, was unanimously accepted. Prof Liz Gwyther, CEO of HPCA, was honoured for her tremendous contribution to palliative care in South Africa in the last two decades.

Dr Cameron offered a short overview of what has been achieved during Palprac’s first year. Apart from the nitty-gritty logistics of registering an association and opening a bank account, the association has grown in membership to just over 60 members with representation from the state, private and NGO sector. A lively Whatsapp group has been the initial foundation, proving to offer much needed peer support. It is Palprac’s hope that the new website, which was later showcased by dr Margie Venter, will expand on this support.

In the private and NGO sector, there has been fruitful interaction with funders, managed care organizations and the Council for Medical Schemes, enabling a better understanding of what palliative care can offer their members facing serious illness while at the same time working towards fairer remuneration for providers. Most notable is the collaboration between Palprac and Alignd in designing a palliative care benefit which intends to enable the offering of sustainable, patient-centred care to those facing serious illness, by multidisciplinary teams through value-based contracting.

In the state sector various initiatives have been successful in growing the discipline. Members have slowly been establishing palliative care services in their various settings. Palliative care training for oncology registrars through-out multiple academic centres has been successfully initiated under the auspices UCT’s department of Family and Palliative Medicine. It has been very well received. The first collaborative meeting between providers in palliative care and nephrology is set for 11th June 2019, led by prof Frank Brennan, a leading expert from Sydney and dr René Krause from UCT. A set of national guidelines on palliative care in renal disease will be the outcome of this meeting.

Dr Teresa Swart, treasurer of Palprac, gave brief feedback on finances. Palprac’s main income in 2018 was derived from membership fees as well as some additional seed funding from some members.

The evening ended with a good meal and more conversation.

In the words of Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”