Media roundup: Palliative care and COVID-19

Categories: Care and Featured.

With palliative care garnering the focus of health systems as key approach in the COVID-19 response, here is a summary of regional media reports:


It’s Time to Get Serious About End-of-Life Care for High-Risk Coronavirus Patients (Time). Ideally, palliative care starts early, at the time someone is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. But the speed and severity of COVID-19 will make that difficult. In order to meet that challenge, we need to build the capacity for more palliative care to be provided at scale (Time).

Coronavirus: Doctors urge ‘difficult conversations’ about death (BBC). People should talk to loved ones about their wishes if they were to become critically ill with coronavirus, a palliative care expert has said. Specialists in care for the terminally ill urged people to have “difficult conversations” about potential treatment and wishes after death.

Keeping the Coronavirus from Infecting Health-Care Workers – Atul Gawande (New Yorker) Editorial on what Singapore’s and Hong Kong’s success is teaching us about managing the pandemic.

Human Rights Dimensions of COVID-19 Response (Human Rights Watch). When quarantines or lockdowns are imposed, governments are obligated to ensure access to food, water, health care, and care-giving support.

COVID-19’s impact on the globalized world – export controlsNot only is it difficult for businesses to carry on business as usual, governments have also imposed bans or export controls on exports of certain pharmaceutical products and medical devices (NPR).


Now is the time to talk about dying (BBC, United Kingdom). Palliative care doctors are urging people to have a conversation about what they would want if they, or their loved ones, became seriously unwell with coronavirus. We should discuss all possible scenarios – even those we are not “comfortable to talk about”, they said. Medics said the virus underlined the importance of these conversations.

A plea from doctors in Italy: To avoid Covid-19 disaster, treat more patients at home (Stat News, Italy). A dozen physicians at the epicenter of Italy’s Covid-19 outbreak issued a plea to the rest of the world on Saturday, going beyond the heartbreaking reports of overwhelmed health care workers there and a seemingly uncontrollable death toll to warn that medical practice during a pandemic may need to be turned on its head — with care delivered to many patients at home.

North America

A COVID-19 palliative care pandemic plan: An essential tool (Canada, EurekaAlert) Palliative care is a human right for patients. “The current COVID-19 pandemic will likely strain our palliative services beyond capacity,” says Dr. James Downar, the head of the Division of Palliative Care at the University of Ottawa and a palliative care physician at The Ottawa Hospital and Bruyère Continuing Care. 

Shortage of palliative care in USA could amplify suffering for coronavirus patients (USA Today). Some experts worry that a long-standing shortage of palliative care professionals – who focus on the physical pain and mental and spiritual distress caused by serious illness – could leave many COVID-19 patients in distress.

The Curve Is Not Flat Enough (The Atlantic). We are converting trauma and burn clinics to care for the disease. You do the best you can with what you have. And many of our locations will not be able to do more than isolate people and provide palliative care.

When Cancer And Coronavirus Collide: Fear And Resilience (NPR) It’s like being in prison inside a prison. Having advanced cancer while being wary of the COVID-19 virus really sucks. I am speaking both as a doctor and as a person with cancer – since 2016, I have lived with stage 4 lung cancer.


The chronically ill are most vulnerable to Covid-19, but their insight is valuable (Daily Maverick, South Africa). Those who depend on palliative care and those who provide it are some of the most vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, but they may be able to offer the most insight into how to practically deal with end-of-life care during the current pandemic .

African health systems brace for wave of COVID-19 cases (International edition, ehospice). As of March 19th, over 30 countries across Africa are presenting confirmed COVID-19 cases. In countries like Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa, travel restrictions and social distancing measures have been put in place. Even so, the continent is ill prepared to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude.


Universities collaborate to produce hand sanitizer to combat COVID-19 in Bangladesh (International edition, ehospice). Only a few local pharmacies are selling these sanitizers, many times higher than original trade price. To overcome this shortage the medical, pharmacy, nursing and chemistry students from different universities and medical colleges of Bangladesh started producing hand sanitizer in their campuses.

Coronavirus: Task force calls for extra vigilance to protect elderly family members (Singaphore, Straits Times). Extra precautions are needed when dealing with senior citizens amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with people advised to avoid interacting with the elderly in their family if unwell.

Have you read articles in your local media that specifically highlights palliative care in the COVID-19 response? Leave us a comment below or email us here.

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