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The Task

  • To gather data on palliative care provision in East and Central European countries from the basic statistics (e.g. the numbers of cancer deaths per year, deaths at home and in the hospital) to the precise number of professionals involved in palliative care, the opioid consumption, the laws and rules which regulate opioid prescribing in each of these countries.
  • To share experiences as to the achievements and obstacles in the field of palliative care in the region. Annual international palliative care courses, organised by Palliative Care Department of in Puszczykowo near Poznan have been a splendid opportunity for that during the last decade.
  • To influene government institutions in mentioned countries if the situation seems to be inadequate to the needs of people dying from cancer (and non-malignant terminal illnesses)
  • To set national policies in cancer pain management and palliative care. Charitable organisations do not seem to provide sufficient funding in developing countries of the region, there is an urgent need to obtain some basic resources from the state for palliative care service.
  • To organize training and courses for palliative care professionals from Eastern and Central Europe. There are already some centres in Eastern and Central Europe which provide high quality education in palliative care. These should support the countries in which palliative care is still at its beginnings, specialist training in Western Europe (i.e. Great Britain) is also taken into account if only funds will make that possible. The idea of multidisciplinary, holistic approach should be emphasised.
  • To set standards of palliative care specific for local needs and circumstances. That applies both to the standards of providing and teaching palliative care. As to the latter it is planned to work out an agreement on curricula for students and postgraduates. ECEPT opts for compulsory comprehensive training for all medical students and family medicine trainees (Poznan experience gives some strong arguments for that).
  • To raise awareness of the problems of palliative care not only among medical professionals but also in whole societies of the countries involved in ECEPT. Eastern and Central European countries lag behind the West very badly in the field of death education. There are still taboos and myths associated with dying from cancer, even among health professionals. Collusion, opiophobia" and futile aggressive treatment cast their shadows on the quality of life of the dying patients. Changing attitudes is a difficult task but the example of Poland adds some optimism social awareness changed immensely after last year's media campaign. Still there is a great deal to be done in that field.