Access to palliative care: a neglected component of the right to health

Categories: Policy.

People facing life-threatening illnesses are deeply vulnerable: often in severe physical pain, worried about death, incapacitation, or the fate of their loved-ones. Much of this anguish is unnecessary. Palliative care effectively manages pain, treats physical symptoms, and offers psychological, social, and legal support for patients and families. Yet palliative care is often unavailable or inadequate, as policy makers and doctors prioritize prevention and curative treatment over quality-of-life care.

The newly published report summarizes the June 2011 panel at the United Nations Human Rights Council, which explored:

Participants included:

  • Tabaré Vázquez, Director and Professor, Radiotherapy Service of the Department of Oncology, School of Medicine, La Universidad de la Republica; Head of Radiotherapy Services at the National Institute of Oncology, Uruguay Ministry of Health; former president of Uruguay;
  • Diederik Lohman, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch;
  • Liliana de Lima, Executive Director, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care;
  • Faith Mwangi-Powell, Executive Director, African Palliative Care Association;
  • M. R. Rajagopal, Chairman, Pallium India.

The report can be downloaded from the Open Society Foundations website.