The German Hospice and Palliative Care Association (Deutscher Hospiz und PalliativVerband, DHPV) is the 55th collective member of the European Association for Palliative Care. Prof Dr Ulrich Bonk, Professor of Pathology, Oncology and Public Health, and Vice-President of the German Hospice and Palliative Care Association, and Angela Hörschelmann, DHPV Press Officer, explain the role of the association.
As the nationwide advocate of the hospice movement in Germany and the umbrella organisation for all national associations and organisations involved in hospice and palliative care in our country, the DHPV acts on behalf of those who are seriously ill and/or dying. As a partner in healthcare and politics, we represent more than 1,000 hospice and palliative care services, in which nearly a 100,000 supporters – volunteers and professionals as well as donors – are all engaged for the good of the terminally ill in Germany.
While we have only recently become a member of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC), the DHPV was one of the initial contributors to the Budapest Commitments process from the very beginning, along with the German Association for Palliative Medicine (DGP) and the German Medical Association (BÄK). In 2010, after two years‘ intensive work involving more than 150 experts as well as representatives from 50 healthcare and socio-political organisations, the ‘Charter for the Care of the Critically Ill and the Dying in Germany‘ was launched. It states that all human beings have the right to die with dignity; and, therefore, all critically and/or terminally ill patients have the right to appropriate, qualified and, if required, multiprofessional care. The Charter contains not only principles pertaining to areas such as ethics and law, the needs of patients and families, the education of professionals and future development and research, but also to the pursuance and intensification of public debate. Now, about three years after the endorsement of the Charter, we are happy to see that we have been very successful in promoting public debate on the care of the terminally ill in Germany: by the end of November 2013, 772 organisations, politicians and healthcare services, as well as about 8,492 individuals had signed the Charter.
This broad support is important for the third phase of the Charter, which started in September 2013. The aim is the systematic implementation of the Charter‘s targets by a national strategy to make sure that hospice and palliative care is integrated into healthcare systems at all levels; and that every person – whether dying at home, or in hospital, or in a home for older people – has the right to die with dignity.
As a new member of the EAPC, we look forward to an even more extensive exchange with other members in order to share ideas and initiatives, and to learn from each other.
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