Lithuanian Health Minister welcomes palliative care discussion

Categories: Policy.

A call to the Lithuanian Ministry of Health clarified that this was not the case. The interview was translated from Lithuanian to English, apparently inaccurately. Giedre Maksimaityte, Head of the Public Relations Department in the Ministry, said: “Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication of the Minister‘s message. What she meant was exactly the opposite – there is a danger to legalize euthanasia in the circumstances where palliative care is not sufficiently developed or is not freely available to the patients in need.

“The reasoning behind this position is that people in the circumstances of unavailability of palliative care services can be forced to choose euthanasia as a way to stop their own suffering or to reduce the burden for their relatives. The Minister thinks that such an option should by all means be avoided.

“She is also aware of a similar views expressed by the Danish Council of Ethics in its 2010 Report and thinks that such a position is even more valid for Lithuania. At the same time the Minister thinks that democratic society cannot avoid an informed public debate on the issues of death and dying as well as the role palliative care should play in this complex and sensitive field.”

The euthanasia debate is a highly complex one, and the health economics of providing universal access to palliative care are not easy issues to solve.

However, around the world there are examples of persistence, ingenuity and creativity by those for whom ‘everyone matters until the end of their lives’ to ensure that, even in the face of scarce resources, institutional obstruction and – in some cases – political dissolution and violence, everyone who needs it has access to good quality palliative care.

Since the days of Cicely Saunders, the founder of the modern hospice movement, hospice palliative care has made and continues to make considerable advances. The abundance of innovative programs and significant research published is evidence of that. Examples include the training of the police force in palliative care in Kerala, India, and the use of cell phone technology by traditional healers providing palliative care in South Africa.

The recent resolution by the WHO Strengthening of palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course represents a chance for national Health Ministries all over the world to support palliative care programmes and to facilitate their integration into the national health service.

The Lithuanian Health Ministry confirmed that: “the Minister is aware of the WHO resolution and shares the views expressed in this document.” ehospice hopes that she will reach out to the WHO and global palliative care groups for technical support in strengthening palliative care as a component of comprehensive care for everyone in Lithuania. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *