Professor David Clark, Associate Academic (Institute of Health and Wellbeing) at the University of Glasgow is one of a dozen experts worldwide who have contributed to its creation. The Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Life is the statistical resource for much of the information included in the report.
This follows the adoption of a stand-alone resolution on palliative care on Thursday 23 January 2013 by the World Health Organisation’s Executive Board.
The Executive Board, meeting in Geneva, will hear that an estimated 5.5 million late stage cancer patients and 1 million people with AIDS each year are suffering severe pain without treatment.
The report identifies the key challenges to successful growth in palliative care as: as a lack of health policies, research, and training.
Palliative care, while still a relatively new component to modern healthcare, 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 care is only going to increase.
For the first time, the Atlas attempts to quantify the need for and availability of palliative care worldwide. The document will then serve as a baseline, against which to make measurements, in order to advocate for increased access.
The Atlas argues that success in developing palliative care for the 40m people each year who would benefit from it requires a “sustainable public health approach ”.
The WHO is calling for the integration of palliative care into all national healthcare systems, where it should “’not be an optional extra”.
University of Glasgow academic Professor David Clark’s studies of the comparative development of palliative care around the world have been used to inform the Executive Board and to shape international strategy on palliative care development.
Professor Clark said: “Only about 20 countries in the world have advanced approaches to palliative care delivery that are integrated with health and social care systems. Even in these countries many challenges remain if we are to provide good palliative care to all who need it in an appropriate way. Elsewhere, palliative care activists are facing huge challenges: with poor access to medications, underdeveloped education programmes, a lack of professional infrastructure and few resources to support public engagement and community endeavour.
“The new Atlas and the interest of the WHO Executive Board will provide a great boost for global advocacy to improve palliative care”
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