The United Nations (UN) multi-stakeholder hearings was held from 8 -9 May 2023 in New York. One of the hearings was on Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness Response (PPPR). Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) have agreed to a global process to draft and negotiate a convention, agreement, or other international instrument under the Constitution of the World Health Organization to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.
In light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO’s 194 Member States established a process to draft and negotiate a new convention, agreement, or other international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response. This was driven by the need to ensure communities, governments, and all sectors of society within countries and globally are better prepared and protected, in order to prevent and respond to future pandemics. Such instruments were created by Member States to secure and foster further collaboration in multiple areas that impact on the health and well-being of people in communities, countries and globally.
The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) Executive Director Dr Stephen Connor was in attendance and he made an intervention. In his intervention, he stated, “The current zero draft of the Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness Response Treaty makes no mention of primary care, suffering, or palliative care whereas there have been almost 7 and possibly as many as 20 million deaths worldwide as of March 2023.
This omission is unacceptable. Palliative care has been a crucial part of the response to the pandemic. The pandemic resulted in many patients dying with significant health related suffering including respiratory distress, and palliative care was critical to improve the quality of life and death where it was available. Critical care health professionals, including nurses, didn’t sign up to care for so many people dying alone. The importance of raising awareness of the need for palliative care cannot be underestimated and should be anticipated for the future. This necessitates recognizing the need for training in palliative care at a basic level for all health care workers so that they are aware of when palliative care is needed and when to call for help. This treaty has to include reference to palliative care or member states will not include relief of suffering, a basic human right, in their response.” You can find the link to Dr Connor making an intervention at the Multistakeholder hearings in preparation of the General Assembly High-level Meetings on the Fight against Tuberculosis, Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, and Universal Health Coverage – General Assembly, 77th session HERE.
Established in 2008, the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) is an international NGO focusing on hospice and palliative care development worldwide. WHPCA’s Vision is a world with universal access to hospice and palliative care. Over the last several years WHPCA’s advocacy initiatives have focused on increasing strategic collaboration with the global palliative care community. Following the adoption of the World Health Alliance (WHA) palliative care resolution the magnitude of the task of closing the gap in access to palliative care is clear. It is increasingly apparent that the global palliative care community as a primary stakeholder must step up to meet this challenge.