[Note from HIFA moderator (Neil): Our thanks to Esha for attending this event on behalf of HIFA and sharing her observations below]
The Global Health Compassion Rounds (GCHR), the Compassion hub of FACE (Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics) held its latest “Round” on Sept 22, 2021 on “The movement to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs): The successes and challenges of a foundation in compassion". Moderated perceptively by Shams Syed (WHO) and David Addiss (FACE) the session once again presented an unique opportunity to learn about and reflect on the challenging opportunities of Compassion and Ethics framed Care based on the Presenters’ engagement with Community Foundations in three continents of Africa, (South) Asia and South America.
Uche Amazigo, Retired Director of the African Program for Onchocerciasis (WHO) spoke passionately about patients of River Blindness experiencing pain and stigma and regaining self confidence with healing provided through the Community Directed Treatment Strategy (CDT). Suma Krishnasastry ,Professor of Medicine & Director of Filariasis Research Unit, Government Medical College, Alappuzha, India described the committed work of her clinical team to improve the quality of life for patients by addressing the critical dimensions of psychological benefits, stigma reduction and social inclusion. Girija Sankar, Vice Chair, NTD NGO Network, Head of NTDs, CBM International made an interesting observation of Compassion, integrating the three elements of awareness, empathy and action – within the lens of human rights rather than only on technical clinical metrics. Rev. Mathias Duck, Global Advocacy Manager, Leprosy Mission International spoke ardently how his own diagnosis with leprosy from working with a leprosy hospital in Paraguay helped change perspectives about people suffering from the disease from being a vulnerable group to that of an uniquely resilient community.
In keeping with the GCHR tradition of challenging ideas, and inspiring reflections on compassion in health systems, the moderated discussion raised some important questions about limitations of conventional notions of disabilities in general noting in particular the implicit power asymmetries in typical NTD care approaches. As Shams Syed had noted earlier, “each element of health service quality has important linkages to compassion” and “the linkages only mean something when it positively affects human lives where services are being provided”. The Rounds, once again, proved to be an excellent forum for exchanging ideas on these critical intersections of Quality Health Care principles.
Esha Ray Chaudhuri
(1)”The role of Compassion in Health Service Quality”, Is Compassion Essential for Quality Health Care? (Vol. 3) August 2020, https://taskforce.org/global-health-compassion-rounds-volume-3-report
HIFA profile: Esha Ray Chaudhuri is an Equity Analyst, in Canada. Professional interests: Equity Issues in Health and Health Care with particular focus on interface of Local and Global contexts. She is a member of the WHO-HIFA Catalyst Group on Learning for quality health services. https://www.hifa.org/projects/learning-quality-health-services Email address: ed.consult3 AT gmail.com