Global Atlas Launched for World Hospice & Palliative Care Day

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, Featured, and Policy.

Today, the 10th October, is the annual World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. Palliative care providers will be sharing a simple message, “Palliative Care: it’s my care, my comfort”.

Working in cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO), The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) has also launched a second edition of the Global Atlas of Palliative Care, which reports on the status of palliative care worldwide.

Dr Stephen R. Connor the WHPCA Executive Director and editor of the atlas, said, “In the landscape of the coronavirus pandemic and as global coronavirus deaths reach 1 million, palliative care has never been more important. By pulling together international research, The Global Atlas paints a picture of palliative care across the globe. It defines palliative care and who needs it, outlines why it is a human rights issue and highlights the access barriers to palliative care. “

As part of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on 10th October, people from around the world who have been impacted by a life-limiting illness – either personally or by supporting a loved one – will be making their voices heard, asking policy makers to pay attention to prioritise palliative care policies and services. Further, people who have been standing in solidarity with them – local leaders, volunteers, advocates, clinicians – will be volunteering their time to amplify the public message.

Many people living in low & middle-income countries, where over three quarters of the need exists, struggle to access palliative care. Etsegenet Asefa who lives in Ethiopia had severe physical pain and symptoms, but also emotional, spiritual and psychosocial pain due to her cancer diagnosis. Palliative care relieved her suffering, brought comfort to her and her family, and gave her confidence and hope once more.

Etsegenet said “I’m 50 years old and I access palliative care at Hospice Ethiopia. After my diagnosis, I found myself in a severe physical, psychosocial & spiritual distress. But after accessing palliative care, my suffering was holistically relieved. I have comfort and improved health status. I am now able to help others by giving care and raising awareness for those who were once in my shoes. My family are very happy, satisfied and at peace with my improvements and that am alive now with no pain. Palliative care must be accessible because there are numerous people suffering from life threatening illness in developing counties like Ethiopia, especially women with breast and cervical cancer. After I accessed palliative care, I got the initiative, courage and psychological readiness to start from the beginning again. I used to give up on myself, I never saw that I would be here today. I advise and encourage people to not give up on themselves.”

Key Messages from the Global Atlas of Palliative Care, 2nd Edition, include:

  • Almost 57 million patients and families need palliative care annually
  • Almost 26 million near the end of life (45%)
  • Over 31 million prior to the last year of life (55%)
  • Including nearly 4 million children
  • Approximately 7 million patients received palliative care in 2017 (up from 3 million in 2011) with only about 12% of the need being met globally
  • Almost 69% of people needing palliative care suffer from non-communicable diseases like cancer, dementia, stroke, heart-liver-kidney failure, lung diseases, or injuries
  • Almost 25% suffer from communicable diseases like HIV, TB, and even COVID-19.
  • 64% of countries have no or very limited provision of palliative care and only 15% of countries have good integration into health care systems
  • Over three-quarters of adults and over 97% of children needing palliative care live in low or middle-income countries
  • 83% of the world’s countries have low to non-existent access to opioids for pain relief and only 7% have adequate access.
  • Need for palliative care is expected to increase 87% by 2060

The Global Atlas has been put together by a range of authors and contributing organisations including: The International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN), the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas, the International Association of Hospice and Palliative Care, the Walther Centre for Global Palliative Care and Supportive Oncology, and the University of Glasgow.

For more information go to https://www.thewhpca.org/

For more information please contact our Communications Manager:

Gill Macdonald at gmacdonald@whpca.org M: +44 7905 085560