Palliative Care Advocacy at the UN General Assembly Meeting 2023

Categories: Featured and Policy.

The United Nations General Assembly meeting at UN Headquarters this year included three High Level Meetings of concern to palliative care advocates. WHPCA and IAHPC can attend these meetings since we are in ‘consultative’ status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The three meeting topics of concern were high level meetings on:

  1. Pandemic preparedness and response
  2. Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
  3. Tuberculosis.

The product of these meetings are political declarations that are worked on by member states (countries) in the year prior to the actual high-level meetings.

Both IAHPC, WHPCA, and several of our collaborating partner NGOs have worked behind the scenes to make sure that palliative care was included in relevant political declarations and for the pandemic a treaty document. We were pleased that there were five references to palliative care in the UHC declaration, mainly references to the continuum of care under UHC. For the TB declaration there was one reference, and while palliative care wasn’t in the pandemic declaration there was a reference to palliative care in the Pandemic Preparedness and Response Treaty.

UHC has been WHPCA’s main advocacy concern as we are working to ensure that a package of covered benefits on palliative care is included in every county’s UHC plan. Please be sure to download our new Advocacy Guide:  Palliative Care in UHC Coverage. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on palliative care providers and patients, and we have been an important part of the response. To ensure that palliative care was not overlooked in policy documents several references to PC in the treaty were proposed. We had a difficult time getting these in but in the end at least got one reference to PC in the definitions section. The need for palliative care for tuberculosis has been challenging. Working the WHO staff in the Global TB program we’ve ensured that there is some reference to palliative care and a chapter on PC was included in the latest WHO TB handbook. Dr Eric Krakauer and I are continuing to work with WHO to ensure that PC is not overlooked, since over a million people die annually from TB.

In addition to the high-level meetings a side event on Universal Health Coverage was held under the auspices of UICC with several co-sponsors including WHPCA and IAHPC. The focus of this side event on UHC was on access to medicines. I was one of the five invited speakers and covered palliative care medicines, particularly opioids. Dr Afsan Bhadelia was also there representing IAHPC. The meeting went well with many good questions. There won’t be another high-level meeting on UHC at the UN until 2026. Achieving UHC for all countries by 2030 is looking like a long shot at this point.

Dr Stephen Connor WHPCA ED at the UNGA PPR meeting

Atul Gawande speaking for USAID at the UNGA TB high level meeting



    hellooo i am registered nurse with 18 years working experience, I request a scholarship of masters in palliative care to support Africans. if any other needed documents i can share.

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