Ensuring access to palliative care for everyone who needs it

“Palliative care should be available not just to patients at their end-of-life stage – such as terminally ill cancer patients – but also to those who are seriously ill and chronically ill,” said the Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development Committee, which expressed concern about insufficient access to pain relief.

The committee added that the lack of palliative care services also resulted in higher costs for the healthcare system, as it leads to unnecessary hospital admissions and inappropriate recourse to expensive emergency services.

According to the parliamentarians, member States should consider palliative care as an integral part of the healthcare system and dedicate the necessary resources to it, while removing legal and regulatory obstacles that restrict access to pain-relieving medication.

The report by Rónán Mullen (Ireland, EPP/CD), adopted today by the committee, also underlines the need to provide support for informal caregivers – spouses, partners, relatives and friends – who play a crucial role in the provision of palliative care, to ensure adequate training for healthcare professionals, and to raise awareness among the general public.

Finally, the committee considers that WHO should pay particular attention to palliative care in following the implementation of target 3.8 of the Sustainable Development Goals on achieving universal health coverage.