Palliative care at the 70th World Health Assembly

Wednesday, 24 May 2017 Print


A palliative care delegation, including representatives from the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA), the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC), the International Children's Palliative Care Network (ICPCN), the Pain and Policy Studies Group at the University of Wisconsin, and the Rwanda Palliative Care and Hospice Organisation (RPCHO), are attending the 70th World Health Assembly.

Held annually in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Assembly (WHA) is the decision-making body of the World Health Organization. It is attended by all WHO Member States and focuses on a health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.

This year's WHA saw the election of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former Minister of Health of Ethiopia, to the office of WHO Director General, replacing Dr Margaret Chan. Dr Tedros is the first person from Africa to be elected to the top job.

During his inaugural address, Dr Tedros reminded the global health community that Universal Health Coverage (UHC) would be his "central priority."

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.

It is driven by equity and human rights, as every person deserves access to quality, affordable health services, including palliative care.

Palliative care is a defining aspect of Universal Health Coverage, and as such, vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Key agenda items for the palliative care delegation this year include: promoting the health of refugees and migrants, preparation for the High Level Meeting on NCDs, discussion on the Global Action Plan on Dementia, the public health aspect of the 'World Drug Problem' and access to essential medicines, cancer control, issues affecting women, children and adolescents, and progress in implementation of SDGs.

Key palliative care messages were consulted on with palliative care advocates and practitioners worldwide before the meeting to ensure that the voice of those working on, and affected by, palliative care was being heard and represented by the delegation.

Professor Julia Downing, Trustee of the WHPCA and Chief Executive of ICPCN, and Dr Katherine Pettus, IAHPC Advocacy Officer, will give verbal interventions during the sessions on: promoting the health of refugees and migrants, the draft global action plan on the public health response to dementia, cancer prevention and control in the context of an integrated approach, and the public health dimension of the world drug problem, among others.

You can view the WHA agenda on the WHO website, follow the proceedings on Twitter using the hashtag #WHA70, and watch a live webcast on the WHO website.

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