Global conference reinforces consumer advocacy
“Nothing about us without us” captured the spirit of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organization (IAPO) first global congress held in London, England the end of February this year. The quote from Harry Cayton, Director for Patient and the Public at the Department of Health, UK, opened the congress and set the tone for developing strategies for consumer involvement at all levels of health care decision-making.
Linda Wilhelm, representing CAPA, participated with IAPO consumer organization representatives from around the world. Throughout formal presentations and informal gatherings the importance and value of consumer involvement was emphasized. “The congress reinforced that we are indeed on the right track with our demands to be part of the decision-making process”, Linda reports. “None of this comes as a surprise to consumers. It’s what we’ve been saying all along.”
Placing consumer involvement on the agenda of the politicians conveys a message to our government that we are the ones who feel the impact of their decisions. “We want to be included as a stakeholder and work with government to help solve problems within our Healthcare system – a system that’s supposed to be there for all Canadians”, she says.
Another issue that hit home with Linda, and came up repeatedly throughout the conference, was the need to watch for Rhetoric versus Reality with all partnerships. “We don’t want to be a checkmark on a list of government ‘to dos’, a token patient/consumer so to speak”, Linda says. Our requests are for “collaborative and meaningful public involvement”.
During the conference, The World Health Organization (WTO) launched its publication, Preparing a Healthcare Workforce for the 21st Century: The Challenge of Chronic Conditions”. The IAPO worked with the WTO on this initiative which re-evaluates core competencies for health care professionals given the challenges anticipated with an aging population and the higher incidence of chronic disease in the future. The WHO acknowledges that Patients must play a greater role in policy making and evaluating care. Patient involvement:
- improves care
- improves patient experience
- involves communities in planning and monitoring local health services
- improves outcomes
The next IAPO meeting will be held in Spain on Feb. 22-24, 2006.