People living in humanitarian crisis

The content and key messages on this page have been developed in collaboration with clinicians, campaigners, people accessing palliative care, and their caregivers. You can use this content in your social media and as part of your World Hospice and Palliative Care Day activities.

WHPCA would love to hear about any projects that are working to create equity in access to palliative care for people living in humanitarian crisis situations.  Please share them with us by contacting our Communications Manager.

People living in humanitarian crisis

Pallchase is an organisation that specialises in providing palliative care for people living in various humanitarian crisis situations.

Principles of Palliative Care in Humanitarian Emergency or Crises are as follows, and a further information around palliative care in these situations can be found on their website Pallchase

People affected by different types of emergencies or crises, such as earthquakes, major storms, hemorrhagic fever epidemics or political violence, may suffer in different ways and require care of different kinds. The principles are:

·         Relieve human suffering: The most fundamental goal not only of palliative care, but also of medicine itself, including medicine practiced in humanitarian emergencies and crises, is to relieve human suffering. Saving lives is a crucial way to achieve this goal but not the only way.

·         Palliative care and symptom control: Humanitarian responses to emergencies and crises should include palliative care and symptom control. There is an ethical and medical imperative to include palliative care in humanitarian responses.

·         “Regards dying as a normal process” and never intends to “postpone death”

· In humanitarian emergencies and crises, the statements that palliative care “regards dying as a normal process” and never intends to “postpone death”, as in the 2002 WHO definition, require additional clarification. In this setting, clinicians should provide care aimed at saving life, while also providing appropriate treatment for pain, symptoms and other sources of suffering. Palliative care never intentionally hastens death but provides whatever treatment is necessary to achieve an adequate level of comfort for the patient in the context of the patient’s values.


Photo credit: Megan Doherty - Pallchase

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