Dr Ron Sabar

During the last year of family medicine specialty training, one of my patients, Naama, a 32-year-old PhD candidate with advanced stage colon cancer, asked me to help her die at home. At this time, there was very limited home-based palliative care in Israel. As her last wish, we helped Naama feel good enough to complete her thesis and receive her doctorate before she died.  Her death will stay with me forever as a model for how to complete circles and die a peaceful and meaningful death. My experience with Naama and her family profoundly affected me and inspired me to enter the fledgling field of palliative care.

I have been active in palliative care in Israel for the past fifteen years and have been a partner to building the field from the ground up. I founded and continue to run Sabar Health, the first publicly funded for-profit national home hospice programme in Israel and one of the largest of its kind in the world. I serve on the national committees that examine and write the palliative care standards, and was amongst the first in the country to receive the specialization in the field. Most recently, I was appointed an advisor to Israel's Minister of Finance to assist in creating the national budget for palliative care and home hospice services. Through Sabar Health, we provide quality home hospice care, free of charge, nationwide, to about 4,000 patients a year, regardless of the basic illness, socioeconomic level, age or religion. I am involved at a regional level with the Middle East Cancer Consortium and in mentorship to palliative care professionals in the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

When not involved in palliative care, I train and run. My family are avid trekkers and we have crossed five continents together. Both of these hobbies stem from an understanding that life should be savoured in its simplest joy and beauty. Working in palliative care serves as a constant reminder that life is temporary and fragile and we cannot postpone the things that make us happy. 

Over the past several years, I have written, spoken about and consulted in other countries on how to establish large-scale palliative care services that are publicly funded and accessible to all. If elected to the EAPC Board of Directors, I would hope to bring all of these experiences, and my vast experience in hands-on-care to the board.