This interview brings to you the thoughts of Dr. Anjum Khan, the organizing secretary of the much awaited 29th Annual International Conference of the Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPCON), 2022, Jaipur.

Dr. Anjum Khan Joad is a Palliative Care Physician and also the Director of the Department of Anaesthesia and Palliative Care Medicine at the Bhagwan Mahaveer Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Jaipur.  

Please visit the conference website for further details about the conference.  

1. How are you feeling now, knowing that the conference is just around the corner?

I have to say that there is a certain stress because IT IS a very big undertaking. It is an International conference, in which we have planned for 34 sessions, 9 preconference workshops.

I am excited to share that there is participation for the conference all the way from Kashmir to Kerala, from Gujarat to Manipur and from beyond India’s geographical boundaries as well! We have put in a lot of work right from the planning phase; so we are keeping our fingers crossed and I am sure that everything will go well!

2.  Can you give us a sneak peek into the pre-conference workshops and the scientific sessions that we can look forward to at IAPCON 2022?

The goal of the people in-charge of planning the conference’s scientific sessions, from Day 1, was to ensure that we have something for all the possible audience groups. The scientific programme has been considered under two heads: Academic and Educational. So, while there are sessions for people who have recently joined palliative care, there are also several sessions that are tailored for academics, experts, a researcher, or someone looking for the latest evidences, or updates in pharmacology, or simply for someone looking for guidance on publication.

3. What other activities await registrants at the conference?

Honestly, the whole committee is super keen to include everybody who is working for palliative care in the country.. We have therefore introduced unusual sessions, like the ‘Expressions sessions’ which is an arena to present your creative skills and which is being managed by Dr. Wasimul Hoda, or the innovative Jugaad session, the Contemporary inventions in Palliative Care: Innovations, techniques and out-of-the box solutions’, run by Dr Babita Varkey, which aims to showcase solutions that we have found in our day-to-day work and which don’t really come from a textbook or an algorithm. So, yes, we are hoping to encourage and synergize all kinds of minds to work together towards our common goal.

4. What according to you are the key takeaways that one can expect from the conference?

The palliative care force, both in our country and globally, needs to work towards achieving equity and excellence. This critical need is accentuated because every single day we hear about how a person had to travel several kilometers or for so many hours to reach a center to access morphine or to just even reach a palliative care centre. Also, palliative care over the years has been confined primarily to only cancer hospitals. We have therefore specifically planned several sessions for palliative care in non-oncology.

The pre-conference workshops have also been designed to include unusual themes like Palliative care in humanitarian disasters and how it poses to be an issue in planetary health. This workshop is being sponsored by the Cairdeas Trust. The EPEC virtual teaching workshop is another excellent workshop that will equip us with skills to teach Palliative Care online. This workshop was conceptualized to empower those of us who are proficient in the classroom, by furthering our effectiveness as a teacher / faculty on a virtual platform too.  

Our team consulted with several of our seniors from the field and with a lot of newcomers. You will therefore notice that right from the planning phase, sessions have been developed for somebody who has just forayed into palliative care and who does not know how to setup their service, or is unaware of the process to apply for an RMI license for their hospital. Sessions have been designed to increase proficiency with validated tools in PC. We have therefore created sessions even for this segment of our audience.

A unique session run by Dr. Nandini will elaborate on “Lets talk about Money “. The session will therefore provide insights into how one can earn a good salary, raise funds and sustain one’s self through this difficult career.

5. In the current scenario filled with uncertainty and challenges, IAPCON 2022 is being organized as an online conference. As the organizing secretary of IAPCON 2022, would you please enumerate a few of the challenges you and your team faced in organizing a virtual IAPCON 2022.

Actually, it has been very exciting!! I have been talking to ALL my friends, seniors and juniors, from across the country. I have also been talking to friends from Australia, UK and America.. We are doing our best to deliver the best that we can.  

The presence of COVID has been both, a challenge as well as an opportunity, because our conference delegates now include people from MD Anderson Cancer Center (USA), from Marie Curie Centre (UK), from Lancaster University (UK), from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Australia), Japan, and from several more from across the world, including the WHO. We could have never afforded to have this lineup of world leaders in a conference if IAPCON 2022, was held as an in-person conference.

I have a great team – but, several of my team are ill due to Covid. Everyday is a challenge. I work in a very busy cancer hospital. My whole team is therefore occupied in taking care of patients too. Even today, three of my team members have reported high grade fever, 8 of our distinguished speakers thatwe requested for recordings are unwell (or have close family who are symptomatic with Covid ). So, working with COVID,is a challenge. Hum honge kaamyaab!!!!

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