World Hospice and Palliative Care Day: celebration or a call for urgent action?

Claire Morris, Advocacy and Policy Officer, Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance

Claire Morris

Claire Morris

On Saturday 13 October people across the world will be marking this year’s World Hospice Palliative Care Day. This year the theme is  ‘Living to the end: palliative care for an ageing population’ – a theme which brings with it cause for great celebration as well as a need for urgent action.

The population is ageing and despite misconceptions, this is not just an issue for the developed world. In fact, of the current 15 countries with over 10 million older persons, seven of these are developing countries. Our ageing population is bringing with it many challenges for our health care systems and for the delivery of palliative care services. But alongside the challenges are many causes for celebration. Our population is ageing because of great medical advances and efforts to promote healthy living. People are living longer with more active years. Hospice and palliative care services are extending and providing quality care to more and more people. Countries with no identified hospice and palliative care services fell from 51% in 2006 to 42% in 2011.

People take to the streets to celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day in South Africa (2010)

People take to the streets to celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day in South Africa (2010)

So, yes, World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is a day to celebrate what has been done. In Adelaide, Australia, a residential aged care hub will be launched by the Australian ambassador for ageing. Topaz palliative day care centre in Belgium will celebrate its 15th anniversary and 10 years of palliative home care will be celebrated in Panevezys, Lithuania. There will be symposiums and meetings in Brazil, Mexico and Guatemala to galvanise interest and energy for palliative care. At the Kosish Hospice in India, they will be celebrating the building of low cost, semi-portable housing designed to be elderly-friendly on the hospice grounds. It is a day to celebrate all that has been achieved.

But the Day is also about demanding change. For the Day, we have an urgent call for action to governments, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector to improve care for older people. There will be a ‘flashmob’ of teenagers calling for increased access to palliative care in Cimislia, Moldova. In Dhaka, there will be a human chain on the street to raise awareness of the need for action in Bangladesh. There will be public marches and walks in Kochi, India; Illorin, Nigeria, and in Croatia.

So, in summary, World Hospice and Palliative Care is a day for both: celebrating and demanding action. As for me, physically I will be in the UK, celebrating the last day of Hospice Care Week, but in my head I will be in Trivandrum, India, on Shangumugham beach with the people cared for by Pallium India who are normally bed-ridden or in wheelchairs. They are going to the beach because that is where they chose to go and one woman wanted to feel the sea beneath her toes again. On World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, I will be celebrating the fact that services like Pallium exist to make that possible, for the young and the old alike.

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This entry was posted in ADVOCACY & POLICY, NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL REPORTS and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to World Hospice and Palliative Care Day: celebration or a call for urgent action?

  1. Pingback: World Hospice and Palliative Care Day: celebration or a call for urgent action? | EAPC Blog « painpolicy

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