The theme of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day (WHPCDay) 2016 is: “Living and Dying in Pain – It doesn’t have to happen.” Around the world, 75% of people cannot access the controlled medicines they need to treat moderate to severe pain. This may result in people living and dying in treatable, but uncontrolled pain.
Palliative care and pain control is a human right, and component of the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which is protected in article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and in article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Access to adequate pain relief is protected under Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Palliative care is an essential and needed health care service within Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as defined by the World Health Organization. The two key elements of UHC are:
This means that the full range of essential health services, including: promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliation must be available and accessible to all people, without risk of impoverishment or financial hardship. The WHPCA published a report: Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care: Do not leave those suffering behind, which provides more detail.
The new Sustainable Development Goals include palliative care as a component of Goal 3: ‘Good health and well-being: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’. The WHPCA report: ‘Palliative Care and the Global Goal for Health: Right. Smart. Overdue. explains this further.
At the World Health Assembly in 2014, UN Member States unanimously passed the resolution: WHA 67.19: ‘Strengthening of palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course.
This resolution calls on national governments, supported by the World Health Assembly, to ensure that palliative care and pain management is available and accessible to all people.