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Speaking up for palliative care as part of Universal Health Coverage at High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals

Author: Kate Francklin, WHPCA
12 July 2017

The High-level Political Forum (HLPF), United Nations central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, is taking place in New York from 10-19 July.

Governments from 44 countries will present their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in relation to a number of targets, including health.

The Global Goal for Health: ‘GOOD HEALTH & WELL-BEING – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’, encompasses Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which in turn, includes palliative care.

Dr Stephen Connor, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance Executive Director, and Dr Katherine Pettus, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care Advocacy Officer, are attending the Forum.

Achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030

UHC is defined as ensuring that all people (children as well as adults) can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, which are of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.

Palliative care and Universal Health Coverage

Palliative care is an essential, defining aspect of UHC. People who need palliative care (both children and adults) have some of the highest health needs and households can be forced into poverty by paying for unnecessary, expensive and futile treatments. The availability of palliative care has been shown to reduce household poverty by reducing unnecessary expenditure on health, enabling people affected (including carers) to work as well as improving quality of life.

The theme of this year’s World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is: ‘Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care – Don’t leave those suffering behind’.

Ensuring access to palliative care as a part of Universal Health Coverage

To ensure the inclusion of palliative care as a part of Universal Health Coverage, countries need to ensure that:

  1. Palliative care, including essential medicines for children and adults, is included in Universal Health Coverage packages
  2. Palliative care is included in the National Health Plan and associated budget
  3. Palliative care is included in all medical, nursing and social care curricula
  4. Palliative care coverage is included in national Universal Health Coverage monitoring.

Dr Connor reiterated the importance of palliative care in achieving SDG 3. He said: “Without palliative care, health coverage is not universal. As agreed in the WHA resolution on palliative care, all countries must strive to strengthen palliative care throughout the life course.”

Find out more about the High Level Political Forum online. 

See more articles in Policy

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