(Hong Kong, 11 December 2010) The 3rd Annual Palliative Care Symposium for Health Care Workers in Chinese Population jointly organized by the Faculty of Medicine at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Li Ka Shing Foundation “Heart of Gold” Hong Kong Hospice Service Program was held at CUHK Li Ka Shing Medical Sciences Building today. The representatives from Li Ka Shing Foundation; Dr Cheung Wai Lun, Director (Cluster Services), Hospital Authority; Professor S P Lee, Dean, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong and Professor T F Fok, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK officiated at the Opening Ceremony. Dr. Enoch Lai from Taipei Medical University was invited to deliver a plenary lecture entitled “Beyond the Horizon in Palliative Medicine” at the symposium on Taiwan experience in developing holistic palliative care. Professor Cecilia Chan from Centre on Behavioral Health of The University of Hong Kong also shared her research on the intervention to preserve dignity in the end of life. Professor T F Fok, Dean of CUHK Faculty of Medicine focused on palliative care as an important component of medical education. Over 100 health care professionals from different backgrounds took part in the symposium. There were parallel sessions on topics ranging from pain and symptoms management to models of palliative care.
The World Health Organization has defined palliative care as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.” It is important for health care workers to address it as the core part of medical care through education. CUHK is dedicated to promoting education on palliative care. In addition to lectures and tutorials on palliative medicine, all undergraduate medical students need to be attached to palliative care units and oncology wards in their study. The Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin Hospital and Bradbury Hospice are postgraduate training centres for palliative medicine. CUHK has run Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma courses in End of Life Care since 2006.
On the research front, numerous research projects are carried out by CUHK affiliated medical, nursing and paramedical staff on a wide spectrum of research topics including the management of pain, breathlessness, fatigue, depression, cancer wound, lymphedema and mucositis. New research activities are underway, such as the validation of instruments as a screening tool for psychological and overall needs of patients, and procedued Doctoral and Master theses. In 2007, the Li Ka Shing Foundation contributed HK$42 million to the Hospital Authority to set up hospice day care centres across eight public hospitals in seven clusters, including the CUHK-affiliated Prince of Wales Hospital in Shatin, to ease the physical and emotional suffering of the terminally ill and comprehensive palliative care services.
CUHK is indebted to the continued support from the Li Ka Shing Foundation and its sponsorship for this symposium. The Foundation aims at contributing to the society by helping those in need to build a better life. Its munificent support on the health care sector has benefited countless patients in Hong Kong, China and worldwide. The Foundation pioneered free hospice care services in the mainland in 1998 with the establishment of the “Heart of Gold” National Hospice Service Program, which offers free hospice care for the patients with advanced cancer in 32 hospitals nationwide. To date the Foundation has served over 96,000 impoverished patients and recruited over 10,000 volunteers.
CUHK is also thankful to the Hospital Authority which aims at providing holistic care to the patients in Hong Kong. The Hospital Authority provides the patients with comprehensive palliative care services including treatment and support through multidisciplinary collaboration in its palliative care centres.