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Closing the divide: the Harvard Global Equity Initiative – Lancet Commission on global access to pain control and palliative care

19 March 2015

The Harvard Global Equity Initiative – Lancet Commission on global access to pain control and palliative care (GAPCPC) has been officially announced in a comment published in The Lancet this month.

Explaining the reason for forming the Commission, the authors state: “Access to palliative care — the prevention and relief of physical, emotional, social, or spiritual suffering associated with any chronic or life-threatening illness, beginning from the time of diagnosis — is at the core of the right to health and is fundamental to health care.

“Alleviation of all forms of pain and suffering, both acute and chronic, is an ethical duty of societies and health professionals. Yet most of the world's population has little or no access to pain control and palliative care, forcing patients and families to endure a tremendous burden of avoidable suffering.

“The absence of palliative care also undermines efforts to improve human wellbeing, and impoverishes a host of interventions intended to reduce human suffering and strengthen health systems.”

The Commission is made up of global leaders in palliative care research, practice and teaching and advocacy. They call for a redefinition of medicine and health systems to “remedy the neglect and marginalisation of palliative care” and emphasise the necessity of including palliative care within the widely accepted goal of Universal Health Coverage.

According to the authors: “The enormous global divide in access to pain control and palliative care constitutes an ongoing crisis that plays out almost entirely to the detriment of poor people.

“The chronic deficit in outrage and outcry is a moral failure that requires remedy.”

GAPCPC brings together experts from diverse specialties and regions with the aim of building on previous work to advance the “recognition of pain control and palliative care as an essential part of health systems and a priority for investment in health.”

Read the full editorial on The Lancet website and follow the work of the Commission online

See more articles in Research

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