This publication is an important demonstration of recognition and support for palliative care by the WHO.

In a series of articles leading up to the launch, ehospice explores key findings of the Atlas, and explains how this important resource can be used for palliative care advocacy at global, regional, national and local levels.

The need for palliative care has never been greater and this need is increasing at a rapid pace as the world’s population ages and due to increases in cancer and other non-communicable diseases. Despite this need, palliative care is underdeveloped in most of the world, and outside North America, Europe, and Australia, access to quality palliative care is very limited.

While still a relatively new component to modern healthcare, palliative care is increasingly recognised as an essential part of all healthcare systems. Despite this, it is widely acknowledged that there is still inadequate access to hospice and palliative care worldwide and, with an ageing population who are going to be living and dying with more complex conditions, the demand for palliative care is only going to increase.

The Atlas is the first resource to measure the need for and availability of palliative care worldwide.

The WHO has focused in recent years on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases and now has a major initiative to address the burdens of non-communicable disease.

Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, said: “While we join efforts to reduce the burden of the biggest killers in the world today, we must also alleviate the suffering of those with progressive illnesses so their quality of life is improved. This joint WHO-WPCA publication is an outstanding example of collaborative effort to position palliative care higher in the global and national health agendas.”

The Atlas addresses the following questions:

  • What is palliative care?
  • Why is palliative care a human rights issue?
  • What are the main diseases requiring palliative care?
  • What is the need for palliative care?
  • What are the barriers to palliative care?
  • Where is palliative care currently available?
  • What are the models of palliative care worldwide?
  • What resources are devoted to palliative care?
  • What is the way forward?

Look out for articles about the Atlas on ehospice this week, as well as the launch of the Atlas on Tuesday 28th January.

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