Friday, October 11, 2013

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2013: Palliative care as a human right

This Saturday October 12th, 2013 is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day (www.worldday.org) and if you are in the United States like me (and most Pallimed readers), the majority (if not all) of your palliative care advocacy efforts are local, regional or national.  Outside of the UK, Australia or Canada, I'll admit to being fairly naive for most of my career when it comes to the palliative care access issues in the rest of the world.  I've explored and participated somewhat in the global health issues of symptom control and pain access, but the local and national needs always seemed to take precedence.  


In the last few months, a few people have done a lot to help open my eyes to the importance of understanding palliative care through the eyes of the world. The efforts of Dr. Jim Cleary (@jfclearywisc) on Twitter (#hpmglobal) and leading the Pain and Policy Studies Group, in addition to Dr. Holly Yang (@hollyby) and Dr. Frank Ferris and their international work, have helped illuminate the challenges faced in other countries who are not as open when it comes to opioid access, or palliative care training.  

So for World Hospice and Palliative Care Day tomorrow I encourage you to increase your awareness about global palliative care issues the whole year through.  But since awareness is real only the first step, I would also ask that you sign The Prague Charter in an effort to make governments recognize palliative care as a human right.  It is already sponsored by:
  • European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC)
  • International Association for Palliative Care (IAHPC)
  • Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) and
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Background information on the charter can be found on the European Association for Palliative Care website.  Basically it asks government to support access to medications, palliative care training, public health policies that support patient and families in times of serious illness and around death, and finally integration of palliative care into the healthcare system continuum.

Once you sign it, share it and when you share it, write why it is important to you.  Here is what I added to my signature on The Prague Charter:
As a palliative care doctor, I have seen suffering damage people and families, but I have also seen the ability for skilled clinicians taught the basics of palliative care, who are able to relieve that suffering.  In that act of relief, those clinicians also create a healing process for patients and families even in the face of serious illness.  With access to critical pain and symptom medications and the proper education more clinicians can make a true difference in people's lives around the world.

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