Spanning across the world, the series has looked at projects in Georgia, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Ukraine that have been working at the intersection of palliative care, law and human rights.
These services are addressing a critical and growing need for patients with life limiting illnesses and their families to access justice, including the drafting of wills, securing social benefits, and making arrangements for children after a guardian’s death.
The impact that legal issues – or often the lack of legal assistance – have on patients and their families is under-reported and under-recognized.
As the articles demonstrate, providing legal services to people receiving palliative care not only protects their rights, but also provides peace of mind to both patients and families, improving their health and wellbeing.
Integrating legal services into palliative care further enables holistic care and increases access to justice by taking the law into the community.
The articles in this series have covered various aspects of legal services and human rights in palliative care:
- Kiera Hepford and Tamar Ezer, Open Society Foundations, introduce the series and explain the importance of legal aspects of palliative care
- Nina Kiknadze, Open Society Georgia Foundation, discussed palliative care and human rights in Georgia
- Dr Zipporah Ali, Kenya Hospice Palliative Care Association, shared her organisation’s experience of human rights and legal aspects of palliative care in Kenya
- Nicky Gunn-Clarke, Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa, wrote about legal services for hospice patients by HPCA, the development of the legal manual: ‘Legal aspects of palliative care 2012’ and the training based on this manual
- Dr Emmanuel Luyirika and Fatia Kiyange of the African Palliative Care Association wrote about the development of legal and human rights guidelines for palliative care patients and their families in Uganda
- Kseniya Shapoval, International Renaissance Foundation, Ukraine, shared the struggle for palliative care as a human right in her country.
At the Open Society Foundations, we’ve been privileged to be involved in this work over the last seven years. We are currently supporting groups in documenting and drawing lessons from this work. Please find a video on KEHPCA’s work relieving suffering by addressing legal burdens.
We are also in the process of developing a Good Practice Guide, highlighting good practices, practical tips, and reflections from our various access to justice initiatives working with socially excluded populations.
Our hope is that these programs for palliative care patients are just the beginning of a widespread movement recognizing the critical importance of addressing both human rights violations and legal problems as integral to palliative care’s holistic approach and absolutely necessary to safeguarding every patient’s right to human dignity.
To find out more, follow ehospice and visit the Open Society Foundations website.