Mary and Dr Kathleen Foley, the Medical Director of the International Palliative Care Initiative (IPCI), have led the Open Society Foundations’ efforts to develop the field of palliative care since 1994.
Their work began with the creation of the Project on Death in America (PDIA), a nine-year, $45 million effort to transform the culture of death in the United States. The work of PDIA was recently chronicled in David Clark’s 2013 book, Transforming the Culture of Dying: The Work of the Project on Death in America, published by the Oxford University Press. In 1998, PDIA began funding internationally in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
They expanded to South Africa in 2003, when IPCI formally became an initiative of the OSF Public Health Program. In the last ten years, IPCI has expanded and played a unique and leading role in defining palliative care as a global public health issue and in advocating for pain relief and palliative care as human rights.
OSF has become the world’s only donor to support a full range of activities related to palliative care development. These include international advocacy, leadership development and fellowships, expanded access to opioids for pain relief, education and training of health care professionals, public awareness, legal and human rights action, reform of national health policies, establishing legal and economic frameworks, and developing resource training centres as model service programs.
The Public Health Program’s commitment to palliative care will continue and will focus on opportunities arising from the World Health Assembly resolution on palliative care and the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in 2016.
A position announcement for the Project Director for International Palliative Care Advocacy can be found on the OSF website.