The guidelines provide detailed direction to hospitals and healthcare providers on when palliative care should be offered, the procedure for initiating it and criteria for providing it in different settings, such as the patient’s home, outpatient clinics, or a hospital. The guidelines emphasize the importance of ensuring that patients can remain in their homes while receiving palliative care.
Although the Health Ministry was supposed to issue this guidance within six months of its 2009 health law coming into effect, it has been held up for years.
In October this year, Human Rights Watch highlighted how the availability of palliative care is uneven and limited throughout the country.
Following the publication of the new guidelines, Diederik Lohman, associate health director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The publication of these guidelines is an important step toward ensuring that people who are dying in Mexico not only have a right to care in theory but also in practice. Now Mexico’s progressive law can finally be put into operation.”
He added: “The real challenge is to ensure that hospitals actually follow the guidance and patients have access to the palliative care that the health law guarantees. The government should set clear targets and hold the healthcare system to account.”
Human Rights Watch also reports that, last week, Mexico’s Public Health Council approved an agreement between government agencies on the development of palliative care. The agreement lays the foundation for critical reforms regarding the prescription of opioid analgesics and healthcare worker education.