The original draft of this document contained no reference to palliative care, but thanks to coordinated advocacy at the national and global levels, the finished document mentions palliative care three times.
Dr Eduardo Garcia Yanneo, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, and Dr Katherine Irene Pettus, Advocacy Officer, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, attended the WHO Global Conference in Montevideo, Uruguay, to keep palliative care in the minds of the high level delegates.
Dr Yanneo writes for ehospice about his experience at the meeting.
Heads of State, public policy decision makers, United Nations organisations, and global experts met to highlight the critical links between reducing premature deaths from NCDs and enhancing policy coherence across areas that impact the governance, prevention, management and surveillance of NCDs.
The goals of the meeting were:
- To provide guidance to Member States on how to reach SDG target 3.4 by 2030 by influencing public policies in sectors beyond health and enhancing policy coherence;
- Launch a set of new global initiatives to help countries accelerate progress in reducing premature mortality from NCDs and fast track efforts to attain SDG target 3.4;
- Exchange national experiences in enhancing policy coherence to attain the 9 voluntary global NCD targets for 2025;
- Highlight the health sector as the key advocate for enhancing policy coherence for the attainment of SDG target 3.4.
Palliative care was mentioned several times during the proceeding, by some of the Health Ministers (e.g.: The Minister of Health of Panama), two Heads of State (Uruguay and Zimbabwe), and also in some of the workshops.
It was mentioned as part of the integral plan of care for those in whom the prevention of NCDs was not possible. Unfortunately, almost all were very brief mentions. The main issues addressed in the meeting revolved around prevention and promotion in order to reduce the incidence of NCDs
I would like to highlight the participation of the President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Dr Viroj Sumyai, who spent a bit more time discussing palliative care as part of the treatment of those suffering from NCDs, and ensuring the availability of medications and treatments available.
Most sessions did not allow participation by non-state actors. However, in some workshops it was possible to interact briefly, so I took the opportunity to thank the delegate from Thailand for highlighting the palliative care programme as part of the comprehensive health plan of her country.
Informal discussions suggested that delegates were interested in finding mechanisms to increase the availability of medicines for the treatment of pain caused by NCDs, particularly in underdeveloped countries.
Palliative care was finally included in the Road Map product of this meeting. This is highly positive, although I think there is still a lot of misinformation about palliative care and its importance in the treatment of people who suffer or die from NCDs.