This article originally appeared in ehospice
The International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network, and the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) have released a report ahead of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day (12 December), entitled: ‘Palliative care and the Global Goal for Health’.
The Global Goals were adopted by the leaders of 193 UN member states at the UN General Assembly in New York on 25 September 2015. They build on the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000, and consist of 17 Goals plus their accompanying targets. These Goals aim to build a better world by 2030, by ending poverty, promoting prosperity and well-being for all, protecting the environment and addressing climate change.
The Goals offer a vision for a future free from inequality, injustice, extreme poverty and climate disaster. The United Nations has identified UHC as part of the Global Goals, but more action is needed to achieve it. It is right, smart and overdue.
Palliative care is an important aspect of UHC, as well as other targets under Global Goal 3: ‘Good health & well-being: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’, specifically those involving maternal and child mortality, communicable and non-communicable diseases, substance dependence disorder (‘narcotic drug abuse’), access to essential medications, and strengthening of the health workforce.
Health is a human right. No one should go bankrupt when they get sick. 17% of people in LMICs are pushed or pushed further into poverty by health spending. UHC reduces poverty and fuels economic growth.
Health is the foundation of sustainable development and global resilience. The United Nations has unanimously endorsed Universal Health Coverage twice, but universal action has not yet been taken, despite the fact that rich and poor countries have proven that Universal Health Coverage is possible.
Limited availability of and accessibility to palliative care globally for people living with life-threatening and life-limiting illness is a prominent example of extreme inequality and injustice. The report shows how the Global Goal for Health and accompanying targets could support a focus on improving palliative care for people with life-threatening and life-limiting illness globally and makes recommendations for inclusion of palliative care within the Global Goal for Health.
The report identifies challenges to a strong focus on palliative care as part of the Global Goals. These include a lack of political will and a global civic movement to promote it, funding challenges, lack of an indicator for monitoring palliative care, the need for integration into primary health systems, and workforce education gaps.
However, progress has been made, and the inclusion of palliative care in the Global Goals discussion, and in the World Health Assembly Resolution on palliative care presents the opportunity to work towards universal palliative care.
The report calls on global civil society, governments and UN agencies to insist that palliative care be prioritised as part of the new Global Goals. According to the report, governments must create an environment that welcomes citizen advocacy, and people must demand a voice in the local, national and global discussions and empower themselves to work towards equitable access to palliative care as part of the Global Goal for Health.
You can download the report from the WHPCA website.