World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2017 – a global call for Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care

Author: Kate Jackson, WHPCA

On 14 October, over 200 organisations around the world will raise their voices to celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day and Voices for Hospices 2017.

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is a unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world. Voices for Hospices is a wave of concerts taking place on World Hospice and Palliative Care Day every two years.

The theme of this year’s World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is: Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care: Don’t leave those suffering behind!

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, without being forced into financial hardship.

Financial risk occurs through paying for costly treatment that is not covered by national health systems. Households with people with a life-limiting illness may face high costs and potential financial hardship for futile treatments.

This year’s theme highlights the fact that palliative care is an essential and needed service and a defining feature of UHC. It is impossible to have UHC without universal coverage of palliative care. It is critical to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, aiming to eradicate poverty by 2030.

Although palliative care is an essential, defining part of Universal Health Coverage, it is very seldom included in national UHC packages, meaning that at their sickest, people are deprived of the care they need to relieve their suffering.

In most parts of the world, hospice and palliative care organisations provide free services to the people and families accessing care. Palliative care must be integrated into the healthcare system to make sure that no-one is left behind.

People who need palliative care have some of the greatest health care needs. They must be included in UHC. A key message of this year’s World Hospice and Palliative Care Day campaign is that no-one should face destitution and poverty when they get sick. Every person deserves access to quality, affordable health services, including palliative care.

This is a political issue. It is heads of state and leaders in the national ministries of health and finance who decide what national health care is funded, who provides it and who receives it.

Health care workers must support people to demand palliative care for themselves and their loved ones. The call for UHC including palliative care is a political movement, and it needs a strong argument and robust indicators to measure the value of palliative care, as well as coverage and gaps in service provision.

We must bring UHC including palliative care to those who need it most. Don’t leave those suffering behind!

Would you like to find out more about World Hospice and Palliative Care Day and this year’s campaign?

Visit the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day web page

Download the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2017 Toolkit.

Are you hosting an event to mark World Hospice and Palliative Care Day?

Add your event to the interactive world map.

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