1 October 2012
The Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) responds to new HelpAge International and UNFPA report ‘Ageing in the Twenty-first Century: A Celebration and a Challenge’.
David Praill, co-chair of the WPCA and chief executive of UK charity Help the Hospices, said:
“This landmark report is a positive step towards opening the world’s eyes to our rapidly ageing populations. While being a cause of celebration, this also brings great challenges, not least in the delivery of health care.
“As this report highlights palliative care is currently not available to many of those in need. Older people often suffer from multiple, chronic debilitating conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia and HIV/AIDS. Many will live and die in pain and distress as they are unable to access the care they need, including the appropriate medications to address their suffering.
“Shockingly 42% of countries do not have any identified hospice and palliative care services and 80% of people globally lack adequate access to medication for treatment of moderate to severe pain. It is vital that palliative care is integrated into national and community health systems to meet the growing needs of an ageing population and to ensure older people living with life-limiting illness are treated and cared for with dignity and according to their wishes.”
Organisations such as the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa are undertaking interesting work integrating palliative care into care homes for older people. The WPCA is today calling others to follow this lead and for urgent action from UN agencies, governments, the private sector and civil society to improve access to palliative care for older people living with life-limiting conditions by integrating palliative care into existing services.
David Praill added:
“We fully support the WHO’s four priority actions, as highlighted in the report, to address better health for older people which includes a call to governments and societies to minimise the consequences of chronic conditions through early detection and quality care, including palliative care.”
On World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, 13 October 2012, palliative care organisations around the world are highlighting the importance of palliative care for an ageing population through a unified day of action. For more information visit: www.worldday.org
Notes to editors
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About World Hospice and Palliative Care Day
World Hospice and Palliative Care Day on 13 October 2012 is a unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world. This year’s theme is ‘Living to the end: Palliative care for an ageing population’.
Populations are ageing with vast numbers of people around the globe living into old age. Increasingly, older people are living with and dying from multiple, chronic debilitating conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes cancer, dementia and HIV and AIDS. Older people must have access to appropriate care, support and treatment, which recognises their contribution to society and is tailored to their individual needs through the course of illness, including at the end of life. Unfortunately palliative care is very rarely available.
On World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2012, palliative care organisations are calling for urgent action from UN agencies, governments, the private sector and civil society to ensure the following:
· the inclusion of older people in the decision-making around their care options, including at the end of life
· existing health policies address the unique palliative care needs of older people
· universal access to hospice and palliative care for older people living with, and dying from, life-limiting conditions including non-communicable conditions
· access to, and availability of, pain medications, including oral opioids, for older people worldwide
· adequate support, training, supplies and equipment so that health professionals and carers can provide palliative care for older people in the community, in inpatient facilities and in people's own homes
· the advocacy agenda on active ageing promotes compassionate and dignified care for older people with life-limiting illneses, including they are at their most vulnerable and approaching the end of life.
For more information visit: www.worldday.org
About the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance
The Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance is an alliance of national and regional hospice and palliative care organisations, bringing together people around the world with a shared vision of universal access to quality palliative care.
For more information visit www.thewpca.org