What is it?
Palliative care aims to improve quality of life and alleviate suffering for those with progressive life-threatening conditions such as AIDS, cancer or advanced heart failure.
This is achieved by:
controlling pain and other distressing symptoms
helping patients and their families cope with the emotional upset and practical problems
helping people to deal with spiritual problems which may arise from their illness
helping people to live as actively as possible despite their illness
supporting family and friends in their bereavement
Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care
"Adding life to days, not days to life"
Ruth Wooldridge, Nairobi Hospice
Over one million people die every week throughout the world.
Many of these people will die without access to palliative care and pain relief. It is known that over 70% of patients with advanced cancer or AIDS experience severe pain. Most of this pain can be controlled if basic expertise and inexpensive yet effective drugs are available.
One estimate suggests that 100 million people could benefit from basic palliative care every year. At present, the actual number of people who receive palliative care is far lower. In India, it is estimated that only 3% of people have access to palliative care, in South Africa it is less than 5%.
As with many resources, there is a vast inequality between developed and developing nations. For example, Sub-Saharan Africa has only 1.5% of global palliative care resources compared to 55% in North America, despite having twice the deaths per head of population.
Although palliative care has traditionally been focussed on cancer, this is no longer the case. It is recognised as an important part of AIDs care, as well as beneficial for people dying from a range of illnesses from motor neurone disease to heart and respiratory conditions.
Palliative care started in the UK which retains expertise in this field. Indeed, palliative care has been, and still is, a British medical export (Robert Twycross, Director of WHO Collaborating Centre for Palliative Cancer Care, Oxford).
"There is little awareness of, and expertise in, palliative care at either the policy, health professional or community levels. If provision of palliative care is to be effective, training is needed for policy makers, health professionals, community health workers, patients and their families. Everyone concerned needs to understand the basic principles of palliative care and how it can be delivered."
Help the Hospices
"Palliative Care is responsive to the nature and stages of illness and the cultural, social, and spiritual beliefs about illness and death. As population age and the burden of non-communicable diseases increase, the need for improving policy, practice and processes for delivering effective palliative care beyond cancer and HIV has become a global priority."
Primary Palliative Care Research Group,
University of Edinburgh
Life Before Death
LIFE Before Death is a documentary project comprising a feature film, a one-hour television program and 50 short films about the global crisis in untreated pain and the dramatic life-changing effect palliative care services can deliver to patients and their families around the world.
Read more ...
Pain relief as a human right - Declaration of Montreal
In October last year the International Association for the Study of Pain hosted the first International Pain Summit at which they launched the Declaration of Montreal.
Many of those who support Cairdeas will recall that in 2008 The International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) and the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) developed a Joint Declaration and Statement of Commitment on Palliative Care and Pain Treatment as Human Rights, which Cairdeas signed. And in the following year Human Rights Watch published their report 'Please, don’t make us suffer any more: Access to pain treatment as a human right' which was a comprehensive review of the issues, identifying the obstacles to providing effective palliative care, and making recommendations to global policy makers.
We are pleased to say that the issue is gathering momentum: in October 2010 the International Association for the Study of Pain hosted the first International Pain Summit at which they launched the Declaration of Montreal, affirming that pain management is a fundamental human right and calling on all governments to honour their obligations in this respect. Cairdeas has signed this declaration and encourages individuals who share this concern to sign on their own behalf.
You can sign the Declaration here.
"Palliative care for all individuals in need is an urgent humanitarian responsibility."
World Health Assembly 2005
The story of Palliative Care
Click image to watch