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Palliative care leader gives intervention at UN High Level Political Forum on behalf of NGO Major Group

Author: Kate Francklin, WHPCA
13 July 2017

Yesterday at the UN High Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance Executive Director, Dr Stephen Connor, gave a verbal intervention on behalf of the NGO Major Group to the plenary discussing Global Goal 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing.

Dr Connor referred to the NGO Major Group Official Position Paper and policy papers by member NGOs, and noted that: “We are still a long way from achieving the (Global) Goal for Health.”

He spoke about the importance of removing all barriers to accessing affordable, quality health and psychosocial support, particularly for vulnerable populations, and highlighted three areas needing special attention:

  1. Access to health information, in the right form and with the relevant support to be meaningful
  2. Greater interdisciplinary collaboration; and
  3. Universal Health Coverage, encompassing health promotion and disease prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.

The inclusion of palliative care in this statement, as well as the opportunity for a palliative care leader to deliver it, was the result of successful advocacy by Dr Connor, and Dr Katherine Pettus, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care Advocacy Officer.

The full verbal intervention is transcribed below, and the position statement, along with a statement from the NCD Alliance is available on the WHPCA website.

NGO Major Group verbal intervention

"I am Dr Stephen Connor from the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance speaking on behalf of the NGO Major Group who appreciates the presentations made this morning on questions posed by the implementation of SDG 3.

We commend to this audience, conference attendees, and all in search of meaningful healthcare and measurable wellness, the points that are included in the NGO Major Group Official Position Paper for this HLPF along with a number of our member NGOs that have prepared policy statements, all of which are available.

Let me present a few additional considerations and my colleague will comment: 

We are still a long way from achieving the goal for health. Governments must remove social, cultural, and economic barriers to ensure full access to affordable, quality health services and psychosocial support for all vulnerable populations. Three areas deserve special attention:

First, lack of access to health information continues to be a major contributor to delayed progress in achieving SDG3. Scientific information about the emergence of Ebola in Africa was published in the literature but due to copyright restrictions was not adequately available to help limit the outbreak. Achieving open access to scientific research needs to be prioritized, with the WHO already leading the way. Access to health information, in the right form and with the relevant support to be meaningful, is essential for effective prevention. So too is the removal of excessive intellectual property related barriers to access to essential medicines.

Second, achieving SDG3 will require greater interdisciplinary collaboration in developing effective prevention and therapies. Novel diagnostics and affordable treatments are called for by & from both the Global North and South, requiring the commitment of public and private resources. However significant may be the sum total of these resources, the rewards from their application will be manifold.

Finally, people must be able to access the quality essential health services they need across the universal health coverage spectrum from health promotion and disease prevention, to treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care, without being forced into financial hardship. To ensure that universal health coverage receives the investments and focus it deserves in this forum, it is essential that all components of the continuum of health be measured and reported. Currently only prevention and treatment have adequate measures identified. So we ask “how can member states ensure that measures and indicators for rehabilitation, palliative care, and health promotion are identified, developed and validated for use to ensure truly Universal Health Coverage without impoverishment”?

Thank you for your kind attention."

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