Palliative Care

#PalliativeCare, Public Health, Community Health or both?


spotlight_780x340__0004_influenza1It is great that these recent 4 weeks have seen four meetings significant for Global Palliative care. These are the Asian Pacific Hospice and Palliative Care Network meeting, the European Association of Palliative Care Congress (#EAPC2015), the Public Health and Palliative Care Meeting (#PHPC15) and the World Health Assembly.  It is an exciting time for Palliative Care but one could not get to all of these meetings. Please let us know in the comments if you did!

Our colleague David Clark (@dumfriesshire) wrote recently on The question of ‘public health’ – thoughts from the EAPC Congress in Copenhagen. One of the most interesting lines in David’s piece is a quote:

As Erika Blacksher wrote as recently as 2014:  ‘There is no settled account or definition of public health’.  It seems important therefore to clarify with which ‘public  health’ it would  be desirable for palliative care to align, and to what ends.

So I agree with this. What is “public health?” I work at the recently renamed University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. It is exciting to see the transformation in  the curriculum to take into account the many aspects of public health. But I too am uncertain as to what make up ‘public health.’

I see public health as the great things that have been done to improve the health of society. The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health define a number of milestones in Public Health:  the 1918 Influenza outbreak that killed 5% of the world’s population;  the 1974 Safe Drinking Act; the 1982 Mammography Quality Standards Act and the 1997 US Federal Government ban on smoking within its buildings.

I do recommend you look at the Public Health and Palliative Care International website. An interesting perspective on Public Health and Palliative Care.  But what strikes me is their by-line “Developing Compassionate Communities!”   While totally agreeing with the “it takes a village” to provide great palliative care, I think of this as community health. This may come from my medical student days where we had a very active Department in Community Medicine, consisting of a number of physicians who had cut their teeth in the highlands of New Guinea.

So I will re-ask David’s question.  Is it Public Health, community Health or both?

Appreciate your comments.

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