We feel sad and impoverished at the announcement of the death of Charles-Henri Rapin. He was one of the founders of the EAPC, and its very soul for many years. With his great energy, enthusiasm and many innovative ideas, he literally pulled and pushed the Association.
As a member of the Board of Directors, he edited the EAPC newsletter and hosted the first Board and Executive Committee meetings at the Centre de Soins Continus (CESCO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Few people know that the first WHO definition of palliative care was taken from the first issues of the EAPC newsletter published by Charles-Henri. In 1991, he came up with the idea of pushing the national palliative care associations in Europe to join the EAPC as collective members – which was to prove a key factor in the success and huge growth of the Association.
In 1994, he chaired the Scientific Committee of the 3rd EAPC Congress in Bergen, Norway, and in 1999, he took on the challenge of organising the 6th Congress in Geneva – again a big success. He launched many projects that have changed our world far beyond palliative care; for example, to cite just one, the initiative ‘Vers un hôpital sans douleur’ (‘Towards a pain-free hospital’).
For some years, he had a chair in ethics at the University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France. He was deeply involved in palliative care for the elderly and in geriatrics in general, working with many associations in those fields.
Today, when we sit together in meetings, we still remember him saying: ‘Il faut s’hydrater’ (‘You must hydrate yourself’) and then forcing us all to drink water. He used to say: ‘We talk a lot about hydrating our patients, but we should start with ourselves, now’. We missed him when he left the EAPC Board to dedicate himself to his many other projects. We miss him even more now.
On behalf of the EAPC
Franco De Conno, Heidi Blumhuber and Amelia Giordano, EAPC Head Office;
Marilène Filbet, past President;
Lukas Radbruch, President
Obituary: Charles-Henri Rapin (1947–2008)
Professor Charles-Henri Rapin died in the night of 10–11 July in Sion, Switzerland, not far from the Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch (IUKB). It was at the IUKB that he had founded, in 1992, the first postgraduate teaching programme in palliative care, the ‘Master Européen en Soins Palliatifs et Thanatologie’.
Charles-Henri Rapin was one of the 42 founding members, in 1988, of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC); he was also a former member of the Board of Directors of the EAPC and of the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Palliative Care (EJPC).
A geriatric physician, Charles-Henri Rapin was one of the first to acknowledge the increasing importance of palliative care for the elderly. He wholeheartedly engaged in teaching palliative care and in the fight for a dignified life and death for patients of all ages. He was especially involved in ethical matters and unsparingly condemned all forms of discrimination. In the first issue of the EJPC, he had published, together with David J Roy, a key article on the incompatibility of euthanasia and palliative care,1 an issue still causing controversy and debate today – and not only in Switzerland. In the world of palliative care, Charles-Henri was certainly one of the most original, unpredictable and lovable figures.
He enjoyed contradiction and had an acute sense of humour, but also a provoking directness. He was highly regarded by his patients, students, colleagues and collaborators. For each one of them, he would always find the appropriate words. But in his life there were also times of loneliness, where he had no friends to support him. Charles-Henri had a vision and was full of ideas, energy and plans.
He left us just before the last day of the teaching programme at IUKB – which was coming to an end after having hosted one last group of students – after a sunny week full of wellbeing, joy and optimism. He died in the arms of three of his students, three physicians, who were unable to bring him back to life when he suddenly collapsed, confronting us with the power and ineluctability of death.
Christof Müller-Busch, President, German Association for Palliative Care (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Palliativ Medizin) email@example.com
Claudia Mazzocato, Consultant, Palliative Care Division, Internal Medicine Department, Nestlé Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland Claudia.Mazzocato@chuv.hospvd.ch
Reference 1. Roy DJ, Rapin C-H, Board of Directors of the European Association for Palliative Care. Regarding euthanasia. European Journal of Palliative Care 1994; 1: 57–59.
Messages to EAPC from his friends and colleagues:
We are all in shock and are grieving for a very special man and a pioneer. He was one of the founding members of the EAPC and contributed substantially to the development of Palliative Care in Switzerland and in Europe. As a physician specialized in gerontology, he never ceased to fight for better care and quality of life for the elderly.
We are sad and we will miss him. Our thoughts are with his wife and his two children.
Member of EAPC Board of Director
We would like to extend our very deepest sympathy to Professor Rapin's family, friends
and colleagues across the world. Charles-Henri Rapin was known internationally for his work in gerontology, pain control and palliative care. He was a founding member and driving force of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) and contributed substantially to
the development of palliative care in Switzerland and in Europe.
Je suis comme vous très attristé de la mort de Charles-Henri. Vous avez mille fois raison de dire que l'EAPC doit beaucoup à son engagement personnel en faveur des soins palliatifs en Europe. Et puis, pour être fidèles à sa mémoire et à son amitié, nous devons aussi nous souvenir des bons moments que nous avons passés ensemble.
Past EAPC board member
It is a very sad news, as Charles Henri was not only an outstanding pioneer, but also a very good friend. I'm very sad and shocked.
XavierGomez Batiste Alentorn
WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Palliative Care Programmes
I’m sorry to receive the information about the death of Charles Henri.
He contributed to the very start of International Palliative Care in Europe within the EAPC and he should be remembered for these and many other contributions to Palliative Care
EAPC past President
I am really sorry to know about Charles Rapin death. I did not meet him but I remember many of his lectures at different congresses, especially in Barcelona in 1995. I will let know all the SECPAL board and members about this sad new. Now is the time to continue all the things he started
EAPC board member
Charles-Henri était un personnage hors du commun, attachant, bourré d'humour et très humain. Son cours sur l'alimentation en fin de vie, avec son accent suisse, reste encore gravé dans ma mémoire. Notre communauté palliative perd une de ses grandes figures.
L'association Elisabeth Kübler-Ross France lui est reconnaissant d'avoir été un des instigateurs du prix de recherche "Elisabeth Kübler-Ross" à l'Institut Universitaire Kurt Bosch (Sion).
Beaucoup seront, comme moi, touchés par cette nouvelle. En union de pensées avec vous,
Dr Hervé Mignot
Association Elisabeth Kübler-Ross France
How sad - he was inspirational and thought constantly outside the box.
St. Christopher's Hospice
Charles-Henry has been a man with a vision, intelligence and heart. I had the opportunity to appreciate his passionate participation in the development of palliative care as a field and as a philosophy. I could not always agree with him, he was no man for compromise and had strong views. At the Geneva congress he played the role of the terminal patient at the theatre performance that was given and I believe it was good education for all of us.
The palliative care community in Switzerland and in the world will remember Charles-Henry.
I would like to convey to Charles-Henry's family the sense of my respect and sorrow for their great loss
National Cancer Institute of Milan, Italy
EAPC Vice President
C'est là un bien triste nouveau. Je pense que parmi ceux qui ont eu la chance de le fréquenter de près au CESCO à Collonge-Bellerive, nous gardons tous le souvenir affectueux d'un individu EXCEPTIONNEL. Sa gentillesse, sa disponibilité, son écoute particulière de chaque "patient" était un exemple d'humanité médicale et humaine.
A son domicile à Genève il racontait volontiers: "Ma femme Carole est une sorcière " ... En effet Carole avec cette douceur tranquille lui a parfois suggéré des sujets de recherche qu’ "elle avait perçu en "rêve". Ces "rêves" ont été parfois des sujets de Congrès et de rencontres scientifiques autour du CANTONAL (Le CHU de Genève) auxquels nous avons parfois participé. Il a aussi été le "Maoïste" qui soignait gratuitement les clochards de Genève. Il a beaucoup fait pour nous par son exemple et ses enseignements. Ce serait bien pour notre deuil commun de lui manifester ainsi qu'à ses proches comment nous l'aimions et nous l'apprécions". Je veux bien participer à une action collective et y compris aller à Genève si on peux encore le voir. Amitiés à tous et bon courage dans nos actions et activités quotidiennes.
Centre De La Douleur, Nouaille Maupertuis, France
First let me say how sorry I was to learn over the weekend about the death of Charles-Henri. He will be greatly missed – one of the real charismatic figures of palliative care...
I remember my first Meeting with Charles Rapin. After the reunion, we were walking together trough Milano and he was very kind and supportive with me. After ask me about my position immediately start to talk slowly about the risk that an offer of euthanasia mean for terminal patients. His worry was spread palliative care as far as possible because the relief of pain and suffering could do unnecessary any legislation measure on euthanasia. I felt then that the old professor want to help the young doctor with a first lesson. Dear Charles, from the heaven, care for us!
Unidad de Medicina Paliativa
Clínica Universidad de Navarra, Spain
Outre l'orateur et le brillant formateur qu'il a été pour beaucoup d'entre nous, Je me souviens de la simplicité avec la quelle il m'avait invité chez lui en Suisse, pour parler de la mise en place d'un "hôpital sans douleur".
Je le connaissais à peine et dans sa grande maison, après un bon dîner, nous avons refait le monde tard dans la nuit en grignotant des tablettes de chocolat...
P.H Soins Palliatifs
Hôpital de Houdan
78550 Houdan, France
La Société Italienne de soins palliatifs (SICP) rappelle la figure belle et importante de Charles Henri Rapin, qui a s’est engagé corps et âme pour les soins palliatifs et a contribué à leur développement dans toute l'Europe.
Le President SICP
We are very sad, and we would like to express our condolences for this unexpected loss.
From Spain, we acknowledge their efforts for PC development in his country and his contribution outside Switzerland. Some people in Spain has been trained with his support, and many other are been advised by him. We would like to send these feelings and the condolence to the family.
Javier Rocafort Gil
President of the Spanish Association for Palliative Care – SECPAL
Dear friends, it's a very sad news. I remember Charles-Henry as a very nice friend and a special person. I'm really shocked.
Past EAPC board member
Ospedale degli Infermi
Just to add my sincere condolences on the death of Charles-Henry. I met him in Geneva and subsequently with Michelle Salamagne. His contribution to the development of the EAPC and palliative care in general will be remembered.
EAPC Past Vice President
Charles Henri was inspirational in making things better for older people. He was also great fun and good company. We shall all miss him enormously.
Barbara Monroe & colleagues
St Christopher's Hospice, London
I was very sad to hear the news of the sudden death of Charles-Henri Rapin. I knew Charles-Henri and had the good fortune to work with him over many years on the Board of the EAPC. Charles-Henri was many things:
primarily, a doctor and academic clinician. He was also a visionary, a pioneer, an intellectual, and a formidable debater and one of the 'founding fathers' of palliative care in Switzerland and in Europe and the world. He was skilled in committees, politically adept, often rather stubborn, measured in personal communication, but passionate in his beliefs. He was a strong proponent of the bilingual tradition of the EAPC and he preferred to speak French to Englishmen like me, though he was fluent in English. My French was poor so he thought it was good for me to practice.
There was another side to Charles-Henri. He had a sardonic and sometimes mischievous sense of humour. He also revealed on one occasion in Athens an aptitude for Greek dancing (though not on the tables). He certainly knew how to enjoy life and believed passionately in maximising quality of life not just for his patients but for those that cared for them, both the professionals and family and friends. Charles-Henri Rapin will be remembered for his major contributions to palliative care. But he will also be remembered for his warmth, his humour and his humanity
Prof. Geoffrey Hanks
EAPC Past President
Editor-in-Chief of Palliative Medicine