The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) and the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) have announced the theme for World Hospice and Palliative Care Day: ‘Hidden Lives/ Hidden Patients.’ This year’s theme will focus on the patients living in unique conditions who often struggle with access to palliative care including children, LGBT individuals, HIV prisoners, soldiers and those living in rural settings.

In palliative care, no one should be invisible. There are ‘hidden patients’ with ‘hidden lives’ for whom the need for palliative care is not recognised. Children are often neglected and ‘hidden’, with 21 million children worldwide needing a palliative care approach.

The vision of the WHPCA and the ICPCN is a world with universal access to hospice and palliative care for adults and children.

Palliative care should be available for all with life-limiting illnesses, regardless of age, race, disease, gender, sexuality, or where they live.

By creating opportunities to speak out about the issues, the WHPCA and the ICPCN hope to increase the availability of hospice and palliative care for adults and children throughout the world.

The aim of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is to raise awareness and understanding of the needs – medical, social, practical and spiritual – of people living with a life limiting illness and their families.

The Day provides an opportunity for local and national hospice and palliative care organisations to raise funds to support and develop hospice and palliative care services.

Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) is in the process of lining up a series of activities and events to mark the week preceding and the actual day in October. Executive Director Dr. Zipporah Ali says, “we want to raise awareness about palliative care in Kenya and work with hospices and care units to have open days, radio and television slots, screening services and visit destitute individuals in society during the whole week.”

Liz Gwyther, Chair of the WHPCA, said: “The Global Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Lifeestimates that worldwide over 40 people would benefit from palliative care (20 million of these being at the end of life). However, less than 10% of the need for palliative care is currently being met.

“This year’s campaign: ‘Hidden Lives / Hidden Patients’ highlights groups that have additional barriers to accessing palliative care.

“We encourage everyone involved in hospice and palliative care to use World Hospice and Palliative Care Day materials to improve awareness of the need for palliative care, to consider the ‘hidden patients’ and how to reach out to them and help them access the care they need.”

Joan Marston, CEO of the ICPCN, said: “Access to palliative care for children is poor in many parts of the world. Whilst acknowledging that in some countries children’s palliative care is well developed, in the majority of countries this is not the case.

“Therefore it is essential that we use World Hospice and Palliative Care Day to advocate for the development of children’s palliative care globally and that we continue to do this until every child who needs it is able to access high quality palliative care.”

What can you do to get involved?

There are many things you can do during and in the days leading up to World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. Visit the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance website to find out how you can get involved and to find promotional materials to use to plan your own events

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