In a live interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) daily news programme, Newsroom, presented by Eben Jansen, Joan Marston was asked about the recent resolution on palliative care passed at the 67th World Health Assembly and other issues related to children’s palliative care.
Speaking about her recent visit to Geneva to attend the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA), the side event on palliative care and to give a presentation for the ATOME project on access to opioids, Joan said that it was an exciting time for the palliative care world as many organisations had been fighting to get palliative care onto the agenda of the World Health Organization for many years.
She explained that the passing of the resolution on palliative care at the WHA meant that all countries party to the Assembly would be actively encouraged to integrated it into their respective health systems as part of comprehensive care across the whole life force. She reiterated that this meant that palliative care should be provided from the tiniest newborn baby to the elderly.
Asked about the year ahead and how the first ICPCN conference held in India earlier this year had assisted in promoting palliative care for children worldwide, Joan said that a growing number of requests for assistance, advice and help with training had been received by the network. The ICPCN e-Learning modules had also been accessed by people from over 60 countries around the world and were proving to be an excellent source of education for people where formal training is not available.
She told viewers that the interest in children’s palliative care is growing and ICPCN had been assisting with the development of a recently formed organisation within South Africa to move the children’s palliative care agenda forward by providing support and assistance to healthcare professionals, parents of children with life limiting and life threatening conditions and to the community. The organisation is known as PATCH-SA an acronym which stands for Palliative Treatment for Children in South Africa.
Future travel plans for Joan include visits to Latin America, Eastern Europe, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. In each of these countries she will be presenting at conference and/or meeting with officials to assist with the integration of children’s palliative care into existing healthcare systems.
Access to opioids
The interview highlighted one of the major issues today in palliative care, including palliative care for children, that of access to pain relieving medication.
“Children’s pain is under diagnosed, under recognised and healthcare professionals are scared of using stronger medications for pain, like morphine, which remains the gold standard for pain management,” Joan explained. “It is effective in pain management even for neonates.”
Joan described the main priorities for future development to be persuading governments to include palliative care for everyone in their healthcare policies and the education of all healthcare professionals.
“One of the biggest barriers to effective pain relief is the fear of professionals to prescribe this medicine,” she said, citing the case of India which is a country that is the 3rd largest producer of opium but until recently had restrictive laws limiting access to morphine for people in that country.
Watch the interview
You can watch the interview here, starting from 48:10 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIcen0BFdRc