Following 2 years of suspensions and deferrals, the 5th edition of the Maruzza Congress International Congress on Paediatric palliative care was finally held as a person-to-person event from the 25th to the 28th of May 2022. Despite COVID restrictions remaining in place for several nations, over 400 participants from 40 countries worldwide came together in Rome to attend this uplifting opportunity to connect and reconnect with colleagues from around the world.
The Opening Ceremony, on May 25th, was presided by the Maruzza Foundation’s President, Silvia Lefebvre D’Ovidio. The Congress Chairs, Franca Benini, and Stefan Friedrichsdorf, assisted by Ann Goldman, the Congress’ Honorary President, opened the proceedings. Three keynote lectures regarding aspects linked to the theme of ‘Listen Really Listen’ were programmed, together with an inspirational two-way conversation between and practitioner and the parent of a child deceased from serious illness. The evening concluded with an enjoyable musical interlude by the singing and signing choirs Quadracoro and the Mani Bianche Coro Roma who closed their performance with a passionate rendering of ‘Imagine’, which involved enthusiastic audience participation. At the end of the ceremony the Congress participants were invited to partake in the Icebreaker cocktail and buffet.
The Young Researcher’s Awards for the Best Abstracts were presented by Giovanni Frau from Les Amis d’Antonio Lefebvre D’Ovidio. The 1st prize went to Irene Avagnina from Italy. The 2nd prize was awarded to Pau Miquel Diego from Spain and the 3rd prize went to Marial A. Biard and Claire Crawford from the USA. Stefania Mancini, from the Charlemagne Foundation, presented the Award for the Best Short Video to Anne van Driessche from the Netherlands for the poignant film ‘Kevin’. The Ventafridda Award 2022 was awarded to Natasha Pedersen from Norway for her endeavours and commitment to promoting and developing palliative care services for children in her country and beyond.
Four pre-congress workshops lead by eminent, international paediatric palliative care experts were organised on the subjects: Anticipation and Accompaniment in Perinatal Palliative Care, Supporting families in distress or in crisis, Symptom management in non-oncological children and Spirituality in PPC.
Over the two and-a-half days of the 2022 congress, the scientific program covered a scope of topics, linked to leitmotif of ‘Listen! Really Listen!’, from Communication, Pain and Symptom Management and Treatment, Listening To The Concerns And Fears Of Children With Serious Illness to Bereavement Support After The Death Of A Child, Perinatal And Neonatal Palliative Care, Siblings Support etc. Each day began with a 30-minute ‘Gaining Insight’ session on the subjects of Managing Conflict, Limited Parental Access During The Covid19 Pandemic and Non-Verbal Communication In Children. Abstracts were submitted from a broad range of nations including: Brazil, Uruguay, Singapore, Ukraine, Latvia, USA, South Africa and the European regions. 102 abstracts were accepted for oral and poster presentations. Professionally, the delegates were distributed as follows: 37% doctors, 24% nurses, 7% psychologist, the remainder included researchers, students, volunteers, physiotherapist, sociologists and social workers.
A particularly engaging session on Children’s Palliative Care In Humanitarian Crises – Listening To Ukraine led to the drafting of the consensus statement ‘The Rome Declaration of Children’s Palliative Care in Ukraine’.
Immediately ensuing the closing ceremony, the EPEC-Pediatrics Train the Trainer Workshop was offered to delegates wishing to learn how to competently teach paediatric palliative care in their institution or geographical region.
The congress concluded with a rousing invitation to participate in the 6th Maruzza Congress, scheduled for 2024.