The passing of the resolution: Strengthening palliative care as a component of comprehensive care across the life course by the World Health Assembly (WHA) signalled a new level of commitment by the World Health Organization (WHO) to improve palliative care worldwide.
This resolution, coupled with proper advocacy and thoughtful, focussed implementation efforts has the potential to pave the way for huge progress in palliative care in the future.
International working groups
The WHO Ad-hoc technical advisory group on palliative care and long term care was formed to bring together experts to advise on this process. The group had their first meeting in Barcelona in December.
In an effort to address pain inequity, one of the greatest health equity gaps worldwide, the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control (GTF.CCC) at the Harvard Global Equity Initiative (HGEI) held an international workshop.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
The UN General Assembly had a special two day meeting on 10 and 11 of July in New York to review the status of work to address NCDs globally. The World Health Organization published profiles on NCDs for all member states, to coincide with this meeting.
The Global Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Life, a joint publication from the WHO and the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA), provided an invaluable advocacy resource for anyone working in palliative care in the world today. The Atlas describes how approximately 40 million people worldwide need palliative care (20 million at the end of life) and that of those needing palliative care, less than 10% receive it.
The research project: Atlas of Palliative Care in Latin America culminated with the presentation of its cartographic edition at the VII Congress of the Latin American Association for Palliative Care (ALCP).
This publication aims to contribute to the advancement and development of palliative care in Latin America.
European Declaration on Palliative Care
Researchers from across Europe applauded the launch of the European Declaration on Palliative Care at the Palliative Care 2020 conference in Brussels in October.
Calls for justice in Russia
Russia has repeatedly been in the news this year, with the trail and eventual acquittal of Dr Alvetina Khorunyak, a doctor charged with drug trafficking for providing pain relief for a dying man.
Alongside this case, a number of suicides by cancer patients, including Admiral Vyacheslav Apanasenko, brought the tragic failure of the Russian state to allow adequate pain relief for its patients into the global spotlight.
Progress in policy and access
In Mexico we saw progress in accessing controlled medicines. In Armenia the government announced plans to introduce a national palliative medicine system, and National palliative care standards were approved in Kazakhstan.
It is important to remember that changing policy, although an important step, is not enough. Often structural factors prevent patients from accessing the palliative care to which they have a legal right.
Human Rights Watch has been working in Mexico to highlight and address issues in access to palliative care.
The organisation worked with Remedios Ramírez Facio, a 73 year old woman with pancreatic cancer, and her family to produce a video showing the practical difficulties in accessing the legally available palliative care in the country.
ehospice was pleased to report that since this video was released, the Mexican Health Ministry has provided guidelines to hospitals and healthcare providers on when and how palliative care should be provided.
Latin American edition of ehospice
The Latin American edition of ehospice was launched in April and has since published regular articles in Spanish and Portuguese, making it an essential resource for hospice and palliative care news in the region.
Mary Callaway and Kathy Foley will retire at the end of this year as directors of the Open Society Foundations’ International Palliative Care Initiative. ehospice adds our voice to those welcoming Duncan Wilson as new project director for global palliative care advocacy.
Dr Julie Ling was appointed as new chief executive officer of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC).
Dr M.R. Rajagopal, Chairman of Pallium India and tireless champion of the rights of palliative care patients in India, was awarded Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism.
International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN)
The ICPCN held their first International Conference in Mumbai in February.
The network also collaborated with UNICEF to release a report on the need for children’s palliative care. The report estimates that in 2013, 6.3 million children under five died from mostly preventable causes, around 200,000 fewer than in 2012, but still equal to nearly 17,000 child deaths each day.
ehospice was honoured to be invited to take part in the 21st birthday celebrations of Hospice Africa in Liverpool, UK this year.
Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU) is the model hospice and educational centre which shows that hospice and palliative care is possible in resource-poor settings in Africa. Over the years, it has become an essential training centre for palliative care professionals all over the continent.
ehospice thanks all those who have contributed over the past year, either by offering information, written articles or added their opinion or experience to ongoing debates.
We encourage everyone to continue to email the editor with news, views or inspiration from around the world.
We wish a peaceful and joyous festive season and a happy new year to all.