Achieving the new global health targets – Universal health coverage and access to pain control and palliative care

‘Universal health coverage — the widely accepted quest of health systems — must include access to pain control and palliative care with financial protection as a fundamental goal.’ An editorial in The Lancet (26 August) makes me wonder if universal health coverage (global health target 3.8) has been fully defined and agreed, or if countries are free to interpret the wording as they wish: “Target 3.8 – Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all”. I would be interested to hear from any HIFA members who can shed any light on this.

Currently, ‘most of the world’s population has little or no access to pain control and palliative care, forcing patients and families to endure a tremendous burden of avoidable suffering’, says the editorial. ‘High-income countries account for less than 15% of the world’s population and 94% of global morphine consumption.’

‘In clinical medicine, the obsession with extension of life and treatment of disease, at any pecuniary or emotional cost, displaces adequate attention to human dignity and quality of life.11, 12 Terminal illness is stigmatised, and dying patients are too often expelled or excluded from health-care systems.’

CITATION: Closing the divide: the Harvard Global Equity Initiative–Lancet Commission on global access to pain control and palliative care.

Felicia M Knaulemail, Paul E Farmer, Afsan Bhadelia, Philippa Berman, Richard Horton.

Best wishes, Neil

Let’s build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge – Join HIFA:  

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