A message from Lucy Watts, MBE, read out at the Executive Board meeting of the World Health Organization had such an impact on Director General Dr Tedros, he phoned and asked to meet with her when next he traveled to London.
In her blog, Lucy’s Light, Lucy eloquently describes the eventful meeting between them that was held in London last week, writing:
“Today I had the greatest pleasure of a personal meeting with Dr Tedros, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding my palliative care advocacy work and ensuring that palliative care gets included in universal health coverage packages. The meeting was more a meet/greet, a get to know each other meeting but we had a great conversation around palliative care, the current landscape, about universal health coverage, about access to medications and about how fortunate I am to live in the UK with our National Health Service (NHS), access to palliative care and hospice services and access to essential medications we require such as opioid analgesics to manage severe pain, for both adults and children.”
She goes on to describe how moved Dr Tedros had been when originally hearing her message and how much he appreciates and respects her for the contribution that she is making to improve access to palliative care for others. She writes, “We talked about palliative care and its availability around the world and about ensuring it is included in universal health coverage (UHC) packages. I didn’t need to tell Dr Tedros how vital it was; he, in fact, said this to me, showing his understanding of its vitality and his commitment to doing something about it. He said about working together to improve access, we both discussed the sharing of stories as being huge drivers for change and I discussed the international direct stakeholder network I set up, Palliative Care Voices, which he was very appreciative of and hopes to be able to utilise the stories of the people through our network to help governments, high-ranking officials and all those in politics and in power around the globe to see the true benefit of palliative care and why universal health coverage, inclusive of palliative care, is a vital part of any society.”
“We both agreed that universal health coverage isn’t universal health coverage without palliative care. We also touched on access to medications for both adults and children.”
After describing more warm exchange between them and their mutual commitment to work together as both colleagues and friends to affect change around the world, Lucy ends her blog with these inspiring words:
“I am truly privileged to live this life, to have these opportunities and be able to affect change. I may have a life-limiting condition but I refuse to be limited by it. I am truly blessed to be in the position I am and I hope to give others the opportunities I have been given, through Palliative Care Voices and through the charity I am setting up separately to this. I want others to have the opportunities and experiences I have had. My work is not about me, it is about others, making a change for others, constructively using my experiences to benefit them, ensuring they have a better life with all the support they require, but also empowering and supporting them to become advocates too. I hope I will achieve this.”
Lucy is a 24 year old young adult with a complex and life-limiting condition. Lucy writes, speaks, appears in videos and in the media, proof reads, reviews grant applications and other work for various charities, and works with numerous charities on a long-term basis. Lucy was appointed MBE in the 2016 New Years Honours for services to young people with disabilities, which she received at 22 years old. Lucy views her life as “glass always full” and appreciates all she has. Lucy has her Assistance Dog Molly, whom she trained with help from the charity Dog A.I.D. Lucy and Molly do all they can to raise awareness of Assistance Dogs and of the charity, Dog A.I.D.