Impressive line-up of international speakers for upcoming Durban Conference

Themed “Inspiration, Innovation, Integration”, the 3rd International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) Conference will bring together local and international health care and allied professionals who make up the inter-disciplinary team providing care for children with rare and complex, life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. The conference will take place in Durban from 30 May – 2 June 2018 at the Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel, registration is still open and will close on Sunday, 20 May 2018.


The 3rd ICPCN Conference is only the second international children’s palliative care conference to be held in the country and will facilitate the exchange of knowledge, innovative ideas, research and experiences in the field of children’s hospice and palliative care. Delegates can look forward to the following impressive line-up of international keynote speakers:


Dr Marie-Charlotte Bouësseau, adviser at the Department of Service Delivery and Safety at the World Health Organization in Geneva.


Dr MR Rajagopal, a 2018 Nobel Peace Prize nominee referred to as the ‘father of palliative care in India’ by the New York Times. He is the director of the WHO Collaborating Center at Trivandrum, Kerala for Policy and Training on Access to Pain Relief, and the founder-chairman of “Pallium India”. Dr Rajagopal is also the subject of the film Hippocratic – 18 experiments in gently shaking the world, which tells the story of this extraordinary global health leader whose mission it is to bring ethical practice to modern medicine through whole-person care and universal access to essential, but heavily restricted, pain medicines.


Dr Pat Carragher, the Medical Director of Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Chair of the Scottish Young People’s Palliative Care Executive.


Sister Frances Dominica OBE, the founder of the world’s very first children’s hospice, Helen & Douglas House and a Patron of the ICPCN.


Professor Julia Downing is the Chief Executive of ICPCN and has extensive experience in developing palliative care services, policy, clinical care, education and research internationally. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Cicely Saunders Institute Department of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation, at King’s College London, and a Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University, and the University of South Wales.


Kelly Du Plessis is the CEO and Founder of Rare Diseases South Africa, a registered NPO born out of necessity when her oldest child was diagnosed with Pompe disease at 11 months old.


Linda Ganca wholectures and convenes the palliative care undergraduate programme at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences within the School of Public Health and Family Medicine.

Dr Satbir Jassal (MBE) who heads a team of doctors at Rainbow’s Children’s Hospital in the UK, is a distinguished author of seminal texts related to children’s palliative care and a lecturer at Cardiff University in Paediatric Palliative Medicine.


Dr Ana Lacerda, a paediatric oncologist from Portugal, who has lead the implementation and development of paediatric palliative care in her country.


Dr Neil McKerrow, the head of paediatrics and child health for KwaZulu-Natal responsible for health services for children across the province.


Dr Michelle Meiring, chair and founding member of PatchSA, the South African children’s palliative care network, and the founding director of Paedspal, and NGO proving children’s palliative care in Cape Town. Dr Meiring convenes the Post-Graduate Diploma in Paediatric Palliative Medicine at UCT.


Dr Regina Okhuysen – Cawley, a paediatrician trained in Latin America and affiliated with Texas Children’s Hospital in the United States. She has a passion for health care delivery to the critically ill and for the early integration of palliative medicine for children with serious illnesses.


Prof Danai Papadatou who is a Professor of Clinical Psychology, a renowned author andthe co-founder and president of Merimna, the only Geek association providing paediatric palliative home care services and bereavement support for children.


Huyaam Samuels, a young adult from Cape Town who lives with a rare medical condition and a recipient of palliative care. Huyaam is a passionate advocate for palliative care and is the current Youth Ambassador for PatchSA and a volunteer for the World Hospice Palliative Care Alliance.


Sue Boucher, Chair of the local organising committee for the 3rd ICPCN Conference, writes “This is a first for Durban and it is unlikely that a conference of this nature will be held again in our city for many years to come. With such an impressive line-up of internationally acclaimed speakers, we urge anyone in the medical, psycho-social and therapeutic fields working with children with life-threatening or life-shortening conditions to make the most of this unique opportunity and to learn more about children’s palliative care by attending this important conference.” 


For more information and to register, visit