The Catholic Church commits to the promotion of palliative care

The Pontifical Academy for Life presents a White Paper for Global Palliative Care Advocacy.

“The Pontifical Academy for Life”, an institution of the Catholic Church, has become aware of the great absence of palliative care across the world and has committed to its promotion.

The ATLANTES team, from the University of Navarra, has helped in the creation of an International Working Group to guide the Catholic Church in this advocacy of palliative care.

This group is composed of thirteen experts in the international development of palliative care from diverse geographical origins and faiths.

All have understood the relevance of the commitment of the Catholic Church in the expansion of palliative care both due to its world influence but also for its contribution in the health-related field through hospitals and healthcare centres all over the globe. This contribution becomes even more crucial in developing countries.

The group of experts includes: Carlos Centeno (Spain), Thomas Sitte (Germany), Liliana de Lima (Colombia), Sami Alsirafy (Egypt), Eduardo Bruera (Argentina), Mary Callaway (United States), Kathleen Foley (United States), Emmanuel Luyirika (Uganda), Daniela Mosoiu (Romania), Katherine Pettus (United States), Christina Puchalski (United States), M.R. Rajagopal (India), Julianna Yong (South Korea), John Y. Rhee (United States), Nunziata Comoretto (Italy), and Eduardo Garralda (Spain). The group agreed that the development of strategic recommendations for the global advocacy of palliative care would be the first task for the Catholic Church.

These experts in the promotion of palliative care took part in an online Delphi process which objective was to agree upon the most important recommendations to make to the most important stakeholders involved in palliative care development.

In four rounds, experts identified the most significant stakeholder groups and then proposed for each, strategic recommendations based on a rationale, existing bibliography and their very expertise in the field.

Each round incorporated the feedback from previous rounds until consensus was reached on the most relevant recommendations. Finally, the group was asked to rank the stakeholders’ groups by order of importance and to propose suggestions for implementation for selected recommendations.

Finally, the selected recommendations were:

  1. Policy makers: Ensure universal access to palliative care
  2. Academia: Offer mandatory palliative care courses to undergraduates
  3. Healthcare workers: palliative care professionals should receive adequate certification
  4. Hospitals and healthcare centres: Every healthcare centre should ensure access to palliative care medicines
  5. Palliative care associations: National Associations should be effective advocates and work with their governments in the process of implementing international policy framework.

This White Paper might serve as a starting point for developing recommendations for institutions within specific cultural contexts and as an advocacy tool with local governments, faith-based organisations, media, educational institutions, multilateral organisations and many other key actors. 

This document can be freely accessed here: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jpm.2018.0248