Palliative care for noncommunicable diseases: a global snapshot in 2015

Categories: Policy.

A new WHO fact sheet released this week provides a global snapshot of the current situation of palliative care in countries.

The fact sheet summarises the key results of the WHO NCD Country Capacity Survey, sent to all ministries of health in 2015, and captures information relating to palliative care funding, national policies, availability of oral morphine in primary care and the provision of palliative care services through primary care and home-care.

The results demonstrate a mixed global picture for access to palliative care, with significant variation across WHO regions and a strong gradient with country income level.

Palliative care is an essential component of a comprehensive response to NCDs, as outlined in the WHO global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020. 

In 2015, just over 50% of countries have included palliative care in their national NCD policy, and nearly two thirds reported some government funding for palliative care.

Greater progress is needed in terms of service delivery and access to oral morphine for pain relief in primary care. There is a particularly critical need to strengthen country capacity for palliative care in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Resolution WHA 67.19 asked WHO to monitor the global situation of palliative care, and evaluate the progress made.

In 2015, WHO included an expanded set of questions about palliative care in the NCD Country Capacity Survey tool, which was responded to by 91% of WHO Member States.

This factsheet provides an important baseline to inform discussions and advocacy about how to accelerate implementation of resolution WHA 67.19. 

A repeat of the WHO NCD Country Capacity Survey in 2017 will measure progress in these key aspects of country capacity for palliative care. 

You can access the factsheet – Palliative care for noncommunicable diseases: a global snapshot in 2015 on the WHO website.

Members of civil society will also release a report at the World Health Assembly, detailing the progress that has been made on implementing the resolution, as well as providing recommendations for action.