On July 15th, 2015 the World Health Organization issued a fact sheet regarding hospice and palliative care. This fact sheet incorporates basic facts and statistics into a document that includes: a definition of the approach, problematic points, how countries can take action and the WHO response.
Some of you might be wondering what a fact sheet is and if any of it is actually significant. Let us start at the baseline. A fact sheet is a page-long document purposed to shed the light on a particular topic getting the readers alerted and ready to do something. So basically, a fact sheet is a way to advocate for the urging need for hospice and palliative care services but does not necessarily guarantee action.
Let us summarize the main points of the fact sheet below:
- Hospice and palliative care are about improving the quality of life of patients living with a life-threatening illness and their families. They focus on relieving the physical, psychological and spiritual suffering.
- Hospice and palliative care services are offered through a team that provides support to the patient and their families.
- Hospice and Palliative care are recognized among human rights in health.
- Hospice and palliative care are offered to a variety of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
- Pain is the most common symptom linked to patients in need of hospice and palliative care.
- Opioids can provide relief physical suffering.
- Yearly, an estimated 40 million patients are in need of hospice and palliative care, 78% of them live in low and middle-income countries.
- Worldwide, only about 14% of individuals who need hospice and palliative care currently receive it.
- Lack of training and public awareness of hospice and palliative care among health professionals.
- National health policies don’t recognize hospice and palliative care.
- Inadequate access to opioids when it comes to pain relief medication.
How Countries Can Take Action
- To integrate hospice and palliative care into their health care systems.
- Training and educating health professionals, volunteers and the public about hospice and palliative care.
- Developing policies to ensure the availability of essential medicines for managing symptoms. Mainly pain relief medication.
- The WHO list of essential medicines includes hospice and palliative care medications.
- The WHO recognizes palliative care as a mandate needed to be part of health strategies and universal health coverage.
- In 2014, the WHO issued a global resolution on hospice and palliative care, and the importance of integrating them into healthcare systems.
We consider this fact sheet a new stepping stone, useful to organizations and individuals interested in hospice and palliative care services such as NGOs, health institutions and health care decision makers to advocate further for the need of hospice and palliative care services.
You can have a full read of the fact sheet by following this link: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs402/en/