Groundbreaking palliative care resolution adopted at WHA

Categories: Policy.

Today is a historic moment for the millions of people worldwide  living with and dying from life-limiting conditions such as cancer, heart disease, HIV and multi-drug resistant TB as the World Health Assembly adopts the first ever resolution to integrate hospice and palliative care services into national health services.

The resolution, passed at the Executive Board in January, outlines clear recommendations to improve access to and availability of hospice and palliative care. These include ensuring palliative care is included in all national health policies and budgets, and in the curricula for health professionals. Vitally it also highlights the need for countries to ensure that there is an adequate supply of all essential palliative care medicines for adults and children.

Earlier this year, the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance published the first Global Atlas on Palliative Care at the End of Life with the World Health Organization. This report highlighted that 42% of countries have low or no access to hospice and palliative care services and that only 20 countries have palliative care well integrated into the health system. Eighty percent of countries globally have low or very restricted access to strong pain medications which means that millions of people worldwide are living and dying in pain and distress with no or little quality care.

David Praill, Chair of the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance, said:

“We are delighted to see the adoption of this resolution giving hope to the millions of people worldwide who will be touched by life-limiting illnesses in their lifetime. It is unacceptable in this day and age that people may live and die with serious health conditions with inadequate care and little more than paracetamol to relieve their pain. To hear at this meeting the extent of commitment from so many governments to address this situation and improve access to hospice and palliative care has been extraordinary.

“The Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance welcomes the adoption of the resolution and looks forward to working with the World Health Organization, governments and our many partners to make the recommendations a reality and to improve and increase access to quality, affordable care for those that need it.”