10 October 2015 will be celebrated as World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. The theme this year is “Hidden Lives/ Hidden Patients”.
Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients (adults and children) and their families who are facing problems associated with life-threatening illness.
It prevents and relieves suffering through the early identification, correct assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, whether physical, psychosocial or spiritual.
Each year an estimated 40 million people worldwide require palliative care, with 78% of them living in low and middle-income countries.
For children, 98% of those needing palliative care live in low- and middle-income countries with almost half of them living in Africa.
Various conditions can warrant palliative care including HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and dementia.
According to WHO, less than 14% of those needing palliative care at the end of life currently receive it.
Lack of training and awareness of palliative care among health professionals is a major barrier to improving access.
Overly restrictive regulations for morphine and other essential controlled palliative medicines deny access to adequate pain relief and palliative care- 83% of the world’s population lack access to pain relief
The global need for palliative care will continue to grow as a result of the rising burden of noncommunicable diseases and ageing populations.
Link to the World Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance web site:
Link to the WHO fact sheet on palliative care:
Link to infographics on palliative care (available in 6 languages):
Link to infographic on palliative care (English):