WHO reports progress on implementing palliative care resolution ahead of 69th World Health Assembly

Categories: Policy.

This document includes, among other issues, a report of the progress in implementing Resolution WHA67.19: ‘Strengthening of palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course’.  

The passage of the WHA resolution on palliative care was a watershed event for the global palliative care community.

After nearly 50 years of growth and development, the hospice palliative care movement and palliative care itself was finally acknowledged as an essential component of health care for every country.

The progress report outlines the steps that WHO has taken towards implementing the resolution. These include:

  • supporting member states to include palliative care in action plans on non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
  • providing support to member states developing specific national guidelines on palliative care
  • supporting South Africa to develop national palliative care guidelines for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis
  • assessing palliative care capacity in member states
  • releasing a set of communication tools, including a corporate fact-sheet and an infographic
  • the WHO ad hoc technical advisory group for palliative care and long-term care supported WHO in conducting policy dialogues and capacity building workshops in four WHO regions
  • supporting national workshops and scoping missions on access to and availability of opioid medications in-country
  • ensuring the inclusion of palliative care in global disease control and health system plans, such as the ‘World report on ageing and health’, ‘WHO’s new End TB strategy’, and ‘WHO’s draft global health sector strategy on HIV, 2016–2021’.

This progress is encouraging, but there remains a lot to be done. Members of civil society will also release a report at the World Health Assembly, which will take place from 23-28 May, detailing the progress that has been made on implementing the resolution, as well as providing recommendations for action.

The Civil Society report notes that increased commitment from member states is essential to successfully implementing the resolution, as is a commitment of resources to support this essential work.

The authors recommend that WHO and member states prioritise the development of palliative care, that essential palliative care medicines are made available in every country, that each country’s Ministry of Health employs a palliative care expert, that palliative care is included in health professional educational curricula in every country, and that palliative care is included in all relevant health policies published by WHO. Continued reporting of progress in palliative care development at future WHA meetings is needed

Dr Stephen Connor, Executive Director of the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance and co-author of the Civil Society report, said: “We are deeply committed to keeping a focus on making and measuring progress in global palliative care development and urge countries to prioritise palliative care according to the guidance from the WHA resolution”

You can download the WHO progress report from the Organization’s website.