Global Atlas Launched for World Hospice & Palliative Care Day

Categories: Care, Featured, In The Media, and Policy.

On 10th October, hospices and palliative care providers across the world will be working together for the annual World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. They will be sharing a simple message, “Palliative Care: it’s my care, my comfort”.

Working in cooperation with the World Health Organisation (WHO), The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) will also be launching a second edition of the Global Atlas of Palliative Care, a highly influential report on the status of palliative care worldwide.

Data on palliative care need and serious health-related suffering in the Global Atlas were produced by the University of Miami Institute for the Advanced Study of the Americas (UMIA) and the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) as part of follow-up to the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief.

Dr Stephen R. Connor the WHPCA Executive Director, said, “In the landscape of the coronavirus pandemic and as global coronavirus deaths reach 1 million, palliative care has never been more important. By pulling together international research, The Global Atlas paints a picture of palliative care across the globe. It defines palliative care and who needs it, outlines why it is a human rights issue and highlights the access barriers to palliative care. “

Dr. Felicia Knaul, UMIA director who chaired the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief commented: “The data on serious health-related suffering continue to demonstrate enormous and unmet global need for palliative care. The UMIA and our advocacy partner, the IAHPC, are pleased to have contributed updated estimates for the Global Atlas to help raise awareness and hope it will lead to palliative care integration and better care.”

As part of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on 10th October, people from around the world who have been impacted by a life-limiting illness — either personally or by supporting a loved one — will be making their voices heard, asking policy makers to pay attention to prioritize palliative care policies and services. Further, people who have been standing in solidarity with them — local leaders, volunteers, advocates, clinicians — will be volunteering their time to amplify the public message.

Many people living in low & middle-income countries, where over three quarters of the need exists, struggle to access palliative care.

Etsegenet Asefa who lives in Ethiopia had severe physical pain and symptoms, but also emotional, spiritual and psychosocial pain due to her cancer diagnosis. Palliative care relieved her suffering, brought comfort to her and her family, and gave her confidence and hope once more.

Etsegenet said “I’m 50 years old and I access palliative care at Hospice Ethiopia. After my diagnosis, I found myself in a severe physical, psychosocial & spiritual distress. But after accessing palliative care, my suffering was holistically relieved. I have comfort and improved health status. I am now able to help others by giving care and raising awareness for those who were once in my shoes. My family are very happy, satisfied and at peace with my improvements and that am alive now with no pain. Palliative care must be accessible because there are numerous people suffering from life threatening illness in developing counties like Ethiopia, especially women with breast and cervical cancer. After I accessed palliative care, I got the initiative, courage and psychological readiness to start from the beginning again. I used to give up on myself, I never saw that I would be here today. I advise and encourage people to not give up on themselves.”

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Note to editors

Photo is of Etsegenet Asefa at a check up



Global Atlas of Palliative Care, 2nd Edition

  • Almost 57 million patients and families need* palliative care annually
  • Almost 26 million near the end of life (45%)
  • Over 31 million prior to the last year of life (55%)
  • Including nearly 4 million children
  • Approximately 7 million patients received palliative care in 2017 (up from 3 million in 2011) with only about 12% of the need being met globally
  • Almost 69% of people needing palliative care suffer from non-communicable diseases like cancer, dementia, stroke, heart-liver-kidney failure, lung diseases, or injuries
  • Almost 25% suffer from communicable diseases like HIV, TB, and even COVID-19.
  • 64% of countries have no or very limited provision of palliative care and only 15% of countries have good integration into health care systems
  • Over three-quarters of adults and over 97% of children needing palliative care live in low or middle-income countries
  • 83% of the world’s countries have low to non-existent access to opioids for pain relief and only 7% have adequate access.
  • Need for palliative care is expected to increase 87% by 2060


*Estimates of the need for palliative care come from a database and methodology developed by the Lancet Commission on Palliative Care and Pain Relief. Updated estimates were produced by researchers from the University of Miami Institute for the Advanced Study of the Americas, the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) and the Mexican Foundation for Health (FUNSALUD). The University of Glasgow, Indiana University, and the International Children’s Palliative Care Network also contributed data for the Atlas.


What is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day?

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is a unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world. Voices for Hospices is a wave of concerts taking place on World Hospice and Palliative Care Day every two years.


When does World Hospice and Palliative Care Day take place?

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day takes place on the second Saturday of October every year and Voices for Hospices takes place on the same date every two years.


What are the aims of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day?

To share our vision to increase the availability of hospice and palliative care throughout the world by creating opportunities to speak out about the issues

To raise awareness and understanding of the needs – medical, social, practical, spiritual – of people living with a life limiting illness and their families

To raise funds to support and develop hospice and palliative care services around the world.


Who organises World Hospice and Palliative Care Day?

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is organised by a committee of the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, a network of hospice and palliative care national and regional organisations that support the development of hospice and palliative care worldwide.



The development of World Hospice and Palliative Care Materials has been made possible in part by the generous support of the Joffe Charitable Trust.

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For more information on the Lancet Commission and the data on palliative care need, contact the University of Miami Institute of the Americas and the IAHPC

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