Only 10% of patients in need of palliative care receive it worldwide

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Globally, about 1 in 10 people in need of palliative care receive it even as demand increases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The organization expects the need for palliative care to double by 2060.

WHO released the data ahead of World Palliative and Palliative Care Day, celebrated on October 9. WHO estimates that more than 56.8 million people worldwide need these services, including 25.7 million who are expected to die within a year. Almost 80% live in low and middle income countries.

“The world therefore needs urgent and concerted action to expand access to quality palliative care services,” WHO said in a statement. “Palliative care is a human right and a moral imperative of all health systems. “

The organization has published two documents to support the further development of palliative care and assess the need for it. This includes a technical report containing globally applicable palliative care indicators for countries to monitor access to these services.

These indicators are designed to monitor access to palliative care services across countries and inform policy makers and the medical community in decision making, identifying health priorities and resource allocation.

WHO has also published a technical note focusing on the quality of palliative care offered globally and to help identify areas for improvement.

“To date, monitoring the existence and maturity of palliative care services has most often been done by assessing the consumption of opioid analgesics,” according to the WHO. “Although opioids are essential for pain relief, they are only a necessary part of the development of optimal palliative care services. “

The organization said optimal palliative care requires an enabling policy environment, empowered communities, palliative care research, access to essential medicines for palliative care, strong education and training systems for providers. health care and attention to quality.

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for palliative care, the WHO reported. Patients suffering from the intense physical and emotional suffering caused by the virus need palliative care for their symptoms, according to the WHO. The organization also said that all healthcare professionals should have some degree of training in palliative care.

“Palliative care improves the lives of patients and their families who face the challenges associated with life-threatening illnesses and severe health-related suffering, including, but not limited to, end-of-life care,” WHO said in its report.

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