World Hospice and Palliative Care Day spotlight on ‘hidden patients’ needing palliative care

Categories: Care.

This year, World Day is hosted by the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA), and the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN).

Everyone matters and should have access to palliative care if they need it. The theme of World Day this year is: ‘Hidden Lives / Hidden Patients’, recognising that there are many people and groups for whom the need for palliative care is not recognised, and who are therefore not able to access the care they need. 

The World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2015 report: Hidden Lives, Hidden Patients, focusses on the patients living in unique conditions who often struggle with access to palliative care, including people with dementia, LGBT individuals, people living with HIV, people with disabilities, prisoners and those living in rural settings.

Children are often neglected and ‘hidden’, with over 20 million children worldwide needing a palliative care approach.

42% of the world has no delivery system for palliative care, and in 32%, services reached only a small percentage of the population. 80% of the world’s population lack adequate access to the medications needed for palliative care and to treat their pain.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Quality of Death Index report, released earlier this week ahead of World Day, illustrates a great disparity in access to palliative care, with higher-income countries clustered at the top of the ranking. However, the report also shows the value of “of innovation and individual initiative,” with countries such as Mongolia, Panama and Uganda ranking relatively highly due to advances in teaching, national policy and opioid availability.

Palliative care should be available for all with incurable illnesses, and it should be provided regardless of age, race, disease, gender, sexuality, or place.

The aims of World Day are to share the vision to increase the availability of hospice and palliative care throughout the world by creating opportunities to speak out about the issues, and to raise awareness and understanding of the needs – medical, social, practical, psychological and spiritual – of people living with incurable illness and their families.

Dr Liz Gwyther, Chair of the WHPCA, said: “The Global Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Life estimates that worldwide over 40 million people would benefit from palliative care (20 million of these being at the end of life). However, less than 10% of the need for palliative care is currently being met.

“This year’s campaign: ‘Hidden Lives / Hidden Patients’ highlights groups that have additional barriers to accessing palliative care.

“We encourage everyone involved in hospice and palliative care to use World Hospice and Palliative Care Day materials to improve awareness of the need for palliative care, to consider the ‘hidden patients’ and how to reach out to them and help them access the care they need.”

Joan Marston, CEO of the ICPCN, said: “Access to palliative care for children is poor in many parts of the world. Whilst acknowledging that in some countries children’s palliative care is well developed, in the majority of countries this is not the case.

“Therefore it is essential that we use World Hospice and Palliative Care Day to advocate for the development of children’s palliative care globally and that we continue to do this until every child who needs it is able to access high quality palliative care.”

In the run-up to World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, ehospice has published a series of articles highlighting different groups of ‘Hidden Patients’. The series introduces people with dementia in Wales, abandoned babies in China, bereaved children in Zimbabwe and many other groups leading ‘Hidden Lives. Access the series on the international children’s edition of ehospice.

Visit the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day website to find out more, download the report, or to join supporters of hospice and palliative care worldwide by registering an event.