Cookies on the ehospice website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. We also use cookies to ensure we show you advertising that is relevant to you. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the ehospice website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.

Why is progress in palliative care not happening fast enough?

Author: Sue Boucher
09 March 2017

Global palliative care activist, Claire Morris, has posted a new blog on the Clore Social Leadership site which questions whether we would see quicker progress in palliative care provision if it was led by those most affected by life-limiting illnesses - the patients.

In a blog posted on 6 March 2017, on the Clore Social Leadership website, global palliative care activist, Claire Morris, writes about the challenges facing the development of palliative care for both adults and children worldwide and the numerous barriers to progress.

She writes, "Having worked on advocacy on this issue for a number of years, it is evident that while progress is being made, it is not happening quickly enough." 

Some statistics 
The blog reveals the following disturbing statistics:

  • 40 million people could benefit from palliative care worldwide
  • Less than 10% access it globally
  • 42% of the world's countries have no hospice and pallaitive care at all
  • 5.5 billion people live in countries with low or no access to medications for effective pain treatment
  • 18 million people die in pain and distress each year as they don't have access to palliative care, including medicines to treat pain
  • 21 million children need palliative care globally  

Causes of slow progress
Describing reasons for the slow progress Morris explains that palliative care is a relatively new concept, so it is understandable that there is inequitable access. In addition challenges to its development include a lack of understanding about what it means and can offer, a lack of political will and policies, legal and regulatory barriers which prevent availability and access to essential medicines and lack of training of health professionals. Added to this, most global and national health systems focus their targets on saving lives rather than providing quality care at the end of life. 

"With mortality remaining at 100%, the growing incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer and dementia, and an aging population, we need much more focus on sustainable ways to ensure quality care as we live and approach the end of our lives," says Morris. 

Potential power of patient voices
Morris makes the point that social justice movements that have been led by people affected, such as the movement around access to HIV treatment, can result in dramatic social change. To this end she has written a provocation piece exploring some of the questions around the extent to which people living with and affected by life-limiting illness should be used to advocate globally for palliative care access. 

The provocation piece cites the powerful advocacy often undertaken by parents of children with palliative care needs and the relative advantages and disadvantages of this advocacy for grieving parents. Examples she includes are The Children's Hospice Association of Scotland being founded in 1992 by bereaved parents and professionals as well as the founding of a children's palliative care organisation in Norway by a parent who discovered there were no relevant services for her daughter in that country. 

What is the potential power of these voices, asks Morris. She closes with this thought-provoking question: "Perhaps we need to readdress the existing power balance and look at who is speaking on behalf of who to develop a more impactful social justice movement on the issue?"

Click here to read the full blog post.

Claire Morris is the Global Advocacy Director at the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, and has been working in the social sector for the past 15 years. She is a committed and passionate advocate for hospice and palliative care globally. 

This article originally appeared on the International Children's edition of ehospice.

See more articles in Opinion

Comments | 0 comments

There are currently no comments. To be the first to make a comment...

Add comment

Denotes required field

Your Name



Recommended articles

Recommended Jobs

Recommended Events