Global access to palliative care and pain relief: five key messages
The findings and evidence presented by the Commission demonstrate that:
1 - Alleviation of the burden of pain, suffering, and severe distress associated with life-threatening or life-limiting health conditions and with end of life is a global health and equity imperative. Most high-income countries have responded with effective interventions, yet the needs of poor people have been neglected, and people living in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) have little or no access to pain relief or palliative care.
2 - An affordable, Essential Package of palliative care and pain relief interventions can ameliorate a large part of the preventable burden of serious health-related suffering (SHS), and this package can be made universally accessible to remedy the abyss in access to care.
3 - LMICs have enormous but unrealised opportunities to improve the welfare of poor people at modest cost. Publicly financing and fully integrating the Essential Package into national health systems as part of universal health coverage, using cost-effective models that can be applied in all countries, offers a solution.
4 - International collective action is necessary to ensure that all people, including poor people, have access to palliative care and pain relief for life-threatening and life limiting health conditions and end-of-life care. A well functioning and balanced global system must both prevent non-medical use and misuse of medicines and ensure effective access to essential medicines for palliative care, including opioids for pain relief.
5 - Effective policy making requires better evidence and priority-setting tools to adequately measure the global need for palliative care, implement policies and programmes, and monitor progress toward alleviating the burden of pain and other types of SHS.