The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Alliance for Palliative Care have just published, for the first time, an atlas of palliative care requirements across the globe. Several worrying figures warrant the inclusion of this topic of access to palliative care on the agenda of the 67th World Health Assembly meeting scheduled for May 2014.
Throughout the world, only 10% of terminally ill patients have access to palliative care. The WHO estimate that, every year, 20 million people should be given access to palliative care, a figure which could increase to "40 million if care were administered at an earlier stage". Among the 20 million on the WHO register, 6% are children and one-third of patients in the terminal terminal stage of cancer. Another figure: "80% of these uncovered requirements concern countries with poor or moderate economic development" and "only 20 countries across the globe have palliative care perfectly integrated within the health system".
Misunderstanding of the concept of palliative care. According to the WHO, palliative care has a far greater impact than that which is currently perceived. Palliative care is not solely about pain relief but "starts as soon as the diagnosis is made and must be maintained even if the [patient] is receiving curative treatment". It should be remembered that "there are no limits to introducing palliative care". Atlas authors call for health care systems to be modernised integrating palliative care as an "essential component". They point out that the obstacles encountered to date are due to a lack of recognition of palliative care in health care policies and the lack of resources allocated to this area.