The 68th World Health Assembly and palliative care

Monday, 01 June 2015

Dr Stephen R Connor, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance Senior Fellow, reports on the recent 68th World Health Assembly (WHA).

 

The 68th World Health Assembly ended Monday 25 May, 2015; a day that included a very special side event on Children’s Palliative Care (CPC).

Side events on the last day of the WHA are often poorly attended due to departure of delegates. However, the CPC event was very well attended with over 100 delegates and NGO representatives. 

In addition to two Assistant Director Generals that spoke, along with the Panamanian Ambassador, there was even a special appearance by Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO, during which she called for ongoing efforts to support palliative care. 

This year’s WHA did not have palliative care on the formal agenda, however there were many topics related to palliative care. It is important to maintain a permanent palliative care presence at these meetings.

Palliative care advocates attending in addition to myself included: 

  • Diederik Lohman & Oncologist Oumar Ba (Human Rights Watch)
  • Joan Marston, Sue Boucher, and Busi Nkosi (ICPCN)
  • Eric Krakauer (IAHPC)
  • Sylvia LeFebvre and Giovanna Abiatti (Maruzza Foundation)
  • Jim Cleary (PPSG)
  • MR Rajagopal (Pallium India); and 
  • James Wells (EMMS International). 

Topics related to palliative care included continuing efforts to develop policies defining categories of non-state actors that promote transparency in participation of commercial interests.

In the follow-up to the 2014 UN Review on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), states highlighted their commitment to keeping NCDs high on the agenda and the urgent need for greater and more even progress ahead of the 3rd UN Review and Assessment on NCDs in 2018.

The importance of including health in the post 2015 sustainable global development goals was stressed, including universal health coverage (defined as Promotion – Prevention – Treatment – Rehabilitation – Palliation). 

We had many opportunities to promote last year’s Resolution on palliative care and to talk with member states to encourage implementation of palliative care within national health systems, and to request their support for WHO’s work on implementation worldwide.

Next year, the Director General will be required to report on progress implementing the resolution and we will want member states not just to accept the report but to keep requesting reports and measureable progress in global palliative care development.

Read more about the Children’s Palliative Care side event on the International Children’s edition of ehospice.