Urgent action needed to improve access to hospice and palliative care: It is time to start dispelling the myths

Categories: Care.

For World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2013, the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance and its global partners are focusing on “dispelling the myths,” and encouraging people to promote the facts about hospice and palliative care.

On October 12, 2013 the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association will be working to dispel the following inaccurate perceptions:

MYTH: Having hospice and palliative care means you will die soon.

FACT: Hospice and palliative care is not just for the end of life. It is a holistic approach that includes caregiver support, spiritual care, bereavement and much more.

MYTH: Hospice and palliative care is just for people with cancer

FACT: All those who are diagnosed with a chronic life-limiting illness can benefit from hospice and palliative care

MYTH: Palliative care only manages pain through the use of addictive narcotics.

FACT: Palliative care is whole person care that provides psychosocial and spiritual care along with pain and symptom management.[i]

“Shockingly, 42% of countries do not have any identified hospice and palliative care services and 80% of people globally lack adequate access to medication for treatment of moderate to severe pain[ii]. This means that millions of people, especially in the developing world, are living and dying in unnecessary pain and distress,” stated David Praill, Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance and Chief Executive of Help the Hospices.

To ensure all those with life-limiting conditions are cared for with dignity and according to their wishes, is calling for nationally integrated hospice and palliative care health systems around the world.

Sharon Baxter, Executive Director of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association stated:

“Hospice and palliative care are essential for any national health care system to fully care for those with the most serious chronic illnesses. Palliative care is for all persons with limited life expectancy no matter what their disease or age. Palliative care is safe, effective and promotes dignity, comfort, and support.”  

To mark this day of action, advocates, patients and carers are unified in calling for urgent action from UN agencies, governments, the private sector, and civil society to improve access to palliative care for people with life-limiting conditions by integrating palliative care into existing services. They also urge these institutions to engage in public education to dispel unhelpful myths and promote hospice and palliative care facts.

“World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is a day of celebration for the progress that has been made in reducing pain and suffering. But it is also a day to shine a light on neglected or marginalised groups that are still unable to get the care that they require,” Added Sharon Baxter, Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance and Executive Director of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

In addition to better integration of hospice and palliative care into health care, the global hospice and palliative care community is stressing the need for:

  • More training for health professionals and carers;
  • Improved access to pain and symptom management medications;
  • The inclusion of hospice and palliative care into existing health policies;
  • Opportunities for older people to be involved in decisions around their care.

To mark World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2013 thousands of people in over 70 countries will coming together at more than 1,000 events to celebrate, support and speak up about hospice and palliative care.

In Canada, many will be taking place, visit www.worldday.org to find out what is happening in your community.           

To find out more about World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2013 visit www.worldday.org

For media enquiries, please contact 
Vanessa Sherry (Monday to Friday)
613.241.3663 x230

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2013

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on 12 October 2013 is a unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world. This year’s theme is ‘Achieving universal coverage of palliative care: Dispelling the myths’. Inaccurate information about hospice and palliative care creates barriers to access that are unnecessary and lead to greater suffering. We are out to dispel these unhelpful myths and promote the facts.

Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance

The Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance is an alliance of national and regional hospice and palliative care organisations, bringing together people around the world with a shared vision of universal access to quality palliative care. 

For more information visit www.thewpca.org



[i] For more myths we are dispelling for the 2013 WHPC Day, please visit www.worldday.org

[ii] Lynch T, Connor S, Clark D. (2013). Mapping levels of palliative care development: A global update. Journal of Pain & Symptom Management; 45(6):1094-1106.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *