Potential founding members of the proposed task force met at the EAPC congress held in Lisbon, Portugal, in May 2011 to discuss options for increased collaboration, and have agreed to contribute to the task force on the assumption that they will fulfil the membership criteria, which will be based around APCA’s partnership framework. The task force application was submitted to the EAPC board in September 2011 and was accepted in October 2011.
Initial milestones included two papers: a) a memorandum of understanding outlining the rules for collaboration in clinical work, education and advocacy, and research that will be used as bylaws of the task force, but also used as a checklist by other European or African services or institutions interested in a partnership; and b) an agenda for bilateral cooperation between APCA and the EAPC. These papers should be finalized and presented to the boards of APCA and EAPC by October 2012.
However, recent developments in the APCA led to a change of plans. APCA has initiated an African research network at the 3rd APCA Congress in Windhoek (Namibia) in 2010. A first meeting of the research network was organized in April 2012 in Kampala (Uganda). Lukas Radbruch (chair of the task force) and Richard Harding (member of the steering committee) participated in the meeting. Lukas Radbruch managed to raise funds from the German Research Foundation for part of that meeting. The experts participating in that meeting decided on the structure of the APCA African Research Network (RN), which will be focussed on four African hubs (Uganda for the East, South Africa for the South, Nigeria for the West and Egypt for the North) as well as on a European and a US American hub. Subsequent discussions led to the idea that the EAPC TF would represent the European hub.
The meeting also discussed a research agenda, which will be submitted for publication soon, and identified three areas where low cost research would be feasible and interesting: a) a survey on the role of volunteers in different African and European settings, b) a survey on morphine consumption in African countries, c) an evaluation of available data from the POS in different African countries.
Progress on these three projects has been discussed in a recent meeting of Lukas Radbruch, Emanuel Luyirika, Eve Namisango and Fatia Kiyange in Kampala on the 15th November 2012. Richard Harding participated via phone.
Outlines are being prepared for these three studies and a first draft of the volunteers survey has been circulated among the APCA RN group. The EAPC TF plans to mirror the volunteer survey in European countries, asking the EAPC members to participate and contribute. This will offer the opportunity for a first joint African-European survey. This survey will also represent the second milestone listed in the initial task force application. The preparation for the survey has been delayed due to lack of manpower and resources, and so the timeline for the survey had to be extended towards 2013.
The participants in that meeting also discussed the next steps and proceedings of the APCA RN and potential contributions of the EAPC TF. The EAPC TF should prepare a short paper providing guidance for European institutions or individuals seeking to work in Africa or collaborate with African researchers. It was felt that these collaborations can be very worthwhile, but that underestimation of financial and staff resources required for such collaborations might produce additional strain for the participating African partners. This is evident when European institutions send students for research projects, but do not realize that not only would student costs have to be covered, but also on the ground costs, for example for ethics committee or IRB approval, local research assistants, driver or translator.
The meeting also discussed the change of the APCA CEO, as Faith Mwangi-Powell had left and Emmanual Luyirika had come in as new CEO. The APCA Director of Learning and Research Tony Powell had also left, though he is still interested in collaboration and contributes to the planned study projects. Eve Namisango is acting as locum director, but a new director is sought, as Eve needs to do her PhD before she can fill a management position. Emmanuel asked whether EAPC can disseminate the call for the new director.
Following the changes in APCA, Tony Powell agreed to step down as co-chair of the EAPC TF (but will remain a member of the steering group), and Richard Harding agreed to act as co-chair.
Other activities of the Task Force
Task force members have contributed as lead author and co-authors to an editorial on palliative care development in Africa, which has been published in the first issue of the British Medical Journal Supportive and Palliative Care.
Powell T, Mwangi-Powell F, Kiyange F, Radbruch L, Harding R: Palliative care development in Africa: how can we provide good enough care? (Editorial) British Medical Journal Supportive and Palliative Care 1 (2011) 113-4
Eve Namisango has published a post on the EAPC blog on the research congress in Trondheim.
Lukas Radbruch has published a post in the EAPC blog on the first advanced skills research course in Africa.
The EAPC TF will organize an open workgroup meeting at the EAPC congress in Prague in May/June 2013. The EAPC TF will also contribute to the research activities at the next APCA congress in Johannesburg in September 2013.
The EAPC TF will contribute to the development of the study plans of the APCA RN, and will initiate the European part of the survey on the role of volunteers.