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Palliative care delegation at World Health Assembly calls for improved quality of life and an end to preventable suffering

Author: Kate Jackson, ehospice
21 May 2018
  • The Assembly Hall filled with delegates of the 70th World Health Assembly, Palais des Nations, Geneva, 22 May 2017.

The 71st World Health Assembly (WHA) starts today, and the strong palliative care delegation, including people directly affected by serious illness, calls for improved quality of life and an end to preventable suffering.

61 million people experience serious health related suffering worldwide every year (The Lancet, 2018), and it is estimated that less than 10% of people who need palliative care are able to access it (WHO, 2013).

A recent report released by the Lancet Commission on Pain Relief and Palliative Care calculated that an essential package of palliative care within Universal Health Coverage (UHC) can cost as little as $3 per capita in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) (The Lancet, 2018).

We are all mortal and palliative care is a universal issue.

Palliative care improves the quality of people’s lives while also improving health system efficiencies and is a fundamental part of good primary care for all.

WHO and member states can work to end preventable suffering by ensuring the essential, cost-effective package of palliative care presented in the Lancet Commission Report is available to all as part of UHC packages.

Thanks to sustained advocacy efforts over the past year, palliative care language has been included as part of the WHO’s General Programme of Work and the indicator within the impact framework, and the delegation will be working to maintain this at the WHA.

Core objectives for the palliative care delegation at this year’s WHA are:

Find out more about this year’s World Health Assembly, and watch the sessions live here: Official documents of the WHA

You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WHA71

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