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Global launch of the Lancet Commission report on global access to palliative care and pain relief: Alleviating the access abyss in palliative care and pain relief - An imperative of Universal Health Coverage

Author: Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, Executive Director, African Palliative Care Association
19 April 2018

On April 6-7 2018, the launch of the report on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief was held with stakeholders and commissioners from across the world representing academia, WHO, World Bank, Ministries of Health, various national, regional and international palliative care associations and foundations.

The meeting considered, among other things, promoting a global observatory on palliative care and activating the Lancet Commission recommendations for integration of palliative care into health systems strengthening.
The forum provided an opportunity for all the stakeholders to discuss the actions that need to be taken to address this global need.

The report shows that the majority of African countries are doing very badly when it comes to coverage of palliative care need for morphine required to treat serious health-related suffering (SHS) on the continent. The best African country, Tunisia, covered 64% of the need, South Africa met only 53%, while the majority of the African countries are below 10% and some with 0% coverage.
This report therefore highlights the need to step up efforts on the continent to get governments to invest in universal health coverage with palliative care and pain relief as integral parts.
The report defines an Essential Package of Palliative Care and Pain Relief Health Services, with clear inputs for safe and effective provision of essential palliative care and pain relief interventions to alleviate physical symptoms, including medicines, equipment and human resources required for the service delivery.
The report also provides both an opportunity and the rationale for all stakeholders to advocate for the inclusion of palliative care and pain relief in universal health coverage approaches that are evidence based, using the essential package which is clearly defined.

The full Lancet Commission report can be accessed at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32513-8/fulltext
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