Catholic Church Promoting and Supporting Palliative Care Globally: Press Release

Categories: Care, Featured, In The Media, Leadership, and Research.

A White Paper to promote Palliative Care (PC) in the world was published in the last number of Journal of Palliative Medicine (September 2018), Vatican City, September 15. The White Paper presents the consensus of 13 PC experts from around the world on what are considered the most important recommendations to 13 groups of stakeholders to help advance PC development. Some of the recommendations are applicable to several stakeholder groups (ie.: recommendation for pharmaceutical authorities on morphine availability should also be directed to lawmakers, administrators, pharmaceutical manufacturers, dealers and PC advocates; or recommendation to universities should also be presented to “health care workers and educators”.

As a strong supporter of health issues for the poor and the most vulnerable, the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) in the Vatican is promoting and supporting the development of PC throughout the world. Practical measures to relieve serious health related suffering through palliative care shifts the overly technical modern medical model to a holistic person-centered approach. PC offers a multidisciplinary care to manage and relieve physical symptoms, emotional and existential distress and provide care to meet social, and spiritual care needs to patients and their families. PC seeks to improve the quality of life of patients, their families and caregivers and values the person from birth to death.

The White Paper emphasizes the responsibility of health care systems and stakeholders to recognize access to pain relief and PC as a basic right of the person and the family, and the responsibility of all elements of the health care system. Every year, over 25.5 million people die with Serious Health Related-Suffering (Shs) associated with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. The vast majority of people with these conditions live in Lower and Middle Income countries and have no access to adequate treatment including, medicines to manage pain, care and support.

Governments and health services, faith based as well as secular organizations, can use the White Paper as a checklist to help them identify and implement basic strategies to improve care for patients and families suffering with life limiting illnesses.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the PAV, commented: Through the Project on PC, the Academy hopes to promote a greater sensitivity in Christian communities and civil society to the development of palliative care everywhere. The Academy’s wish is to interact with other academic institutions and scientific organizations to promote palliative care and to work with the various stakeholders to carry out concrete initiatives».

Dr. Carlos Centeno, principal investigator in the White Paper, commented: This White Paper represents a consensus of palliative care experts and leaders from all over the world. The White Paper can serve as the basis for developing recommendations for institutions within specific cultural contexts and be used for advocacy with local governments, faith-based organisations, the media, educational institutions, multilateral organisations and many other key actors.

The White Paper was published in English and Spanish, and in Open Access, to allow wide dissemination and free universal access to all. To download the White Paper, click on this link:

The Pontifical Life Academy, Vatican City

About Pontifical Academy for Life 2018 Palliative Care Meeting:

For further information:

Vatican City, September 15th


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