Funding palliative care

Categories: Care.

The resolution also calls on member states to finance palliative care from education, research and care to patients and their families. This resolution came at a time when most of palliative and chronic care funding burden was shared by very few entities and countries.

The palliative care fraternity globally but specifically in Africa ought to be very thankful to our traditional palliative care donors such as the US government through PEPPFAR, the UK Government through DFID, the EU but also trusts and foundations, Global Partners In Care formerly FHSSA, American Cancer Society, International Palliative Care Initiative of OSF, OSEA, OSISA, the True Colours Trust UK and many other funding institutions and individuals.

In addition the national palliative care organisations in USA, Canada, Hospice UK (formerly Help the Hospices) and many others have done a great job in supporting African palliative care players through direct funding, twinning programmes, and training opportunities for the staff. The universities such as University of Edinburgh, University of Wisconsin, Kings College London, University of Bonn, University of Cape Town and Makerere University have also immensely contributed to palliative care research among others.

We in Africa are forever grateful for this support which has meant a difference between death in agony while overwhelmed by signs and symptoms of chronic and often life limiting conditions or comfort and relief for patients and their families.

 Therefore as the global economic and health care funding dynamics evolve there is great concern that that this may hurt many patients and programmes especially in the Low and Middle Income countries majority of which are in Africa.

The timing of this resolution creates an opportunity for WHO member states to increase resources to the health care systems to address some of the funding gaps for palliative care and compliment what our traditional donors are contributing. There is need for African governments to see this as their role and responsibility so that our other partners just compliment what governments have committed.

There are governments such as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa which are moving fast to integrate palliative care into the health systems but are still limited by resources. This calls for creative ways of diversifying the funding.

Palliative care funding should be seen as a very useful investments for governments. The palliative care approach has contributed not only to reduction of suffering among patients with HIV, cancer and other conditions but for the programmes using the palliative care approach have demonstrated cost effectiveness as well as reduction in unnecessary patient admissions and what that means financially to both governments and families. In addition HIV programmes using the palliative care approach have contributed significantly to retention of patients on ART and in programmes, prevention of further HIV transmission through accessing other family members and tracking, testing and treating of children people living with HIV.

Funding palliative care is therefore an investment which countries of the world can ignore to their peril.

We need to integrate palliative care into national health care systems and also critically diversify the funding options to include national health budgets, medical insurance schemes for the private sector and national medical insurance schemes for the public as ways to cover this gap. This will then be supplemented by our other donors.

Without inclusion of funding palliative care activities especially education, care and research in national systems, there is no way Africa and other LMICs can ever have universal health coverage.



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