Dr Danila Valenti

In 2015, the Italian Association for Palliative Care (La Società Italiana di Cure Palliative – SICP) and the Federation of Non-profit Palliative Care Organizations (Federazione Cure Palliative Onlus – FCP) nominated me as a candidate for the 2015 elections to the board of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC). I was honoured to be nominated and would be delighted to stand for a second term of four years.

When I was a 23-year-old medical student, I had my first volunteering experience in Africa, working for four months in the Zimbabwe National Leprosy programme. I feel that this helped to set me on a journey towards palliative care and the non-profit sector. In 1990, I began my professional career as palliative home care physician for a non-profit association (Associazione Nazionale Tumori). In 2001, I founded one of the first hospices in Italy – soon to become the largest in the country – and served as the medical director for 10 years.

Contributing at national, regional and local levels

From 2007 to 2010, SICP and FCP were part of the fruitful team effort in achieving the passing of the Italian Law 38/2010, which improved the scope and quality of palliative care in Italy and, as vice president of SICP, I was part of this great achievement. In the mandate I was in SICP the referring to the Advance Care Planning.  I am not sure what this means; do you mean: I was the lead person in SICP on Advance Care Planning.

As vice president of SICP from 2010 to 2013, I was heavily involved in its education task force. I coordinated the working groups for core university curricula and the core competencies of the professionals involved in palliative care (physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, social workers, psychologists and general practitioners).

From 2007 to 2018, in my capacity as director of the Metropolitan Oncology and Palliative Care Unit USD and head of the Palliative Care Network for the Local Health Authority of Bologna, I was the Head of led the regional Innovation Project: ‘Development of Palliative Care Network’ focusing on early palliative care. This led to the integration of public and non-profit organisations and the creation of 13 outpatient early palliative care clinics (palliative home care and hospice care had already been set up by non-profit organisations).

My current role

Since 2018, I have been Director of the Palliative Care Unit Network, in a local health authority (Bologna), with about 900,000 inhabitants (24.1 per cent over 65 and 7.1 per cent non-Italian), 50 communes, nine hospitals (with 1,889 beds) and three hospices (58 beds). Our team of multiprofessionals, who work in public and non-profit organisations, are also consultants at the University Hospital, Policlinico S.Orsola Malpighi, (1,535 beds).  

I recently contributed to the drafting of the basic text of Italian Law 219/2107 on Advance Care Planning, debated in Parliament and approved in December 2017.

What I would hope to bring to the EAPC board if re-elected

Utilising my professional and personal experience, I believe that I could continue to make a valuable contribution to EAPC, particularly in early palliative care, professional training, integration of non-profit organisations and public facilities, ethical issues, and innovation in palliative care.

My goal would be to promote the development of early palliative care in Europe (awareness, organisations, and education), so that people can enjoy the demonstrated benefits of palliative care even in the early stages of the disease and that, in the final stages of life, they receive real and effective palliative care.

I strongly believe that differences are an asset, that the compared experiences of different countries – exchanged, examined and employed in unity – represent the rich diversity of EAPC members. Enabling a single, shared voice in Europe makes EAPC a driving force for the development and improvement of palliative care.