The crucial need to prioritise palliative care in Universal Health Care

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Fatima Irshad, a nineteen year old, first year medical student currently enrolled in Sheikh Zayed Medical College, Pakistan. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Being a constitutive and integral component of essential health care servies, palliative care calls for equitable and sufficient provision of resources aimed at optimising the quality of life for patients with serious and/or life-threatening illnesses. Although palliative care has been long recognised by the World Health Organisation as a core mandate in healthcare, it is still largely under-acknowledged in many parts of the world. This is why it’s important to advocate for palliative care to be included in UHC on Universal Health Care day this december.

One of the primary ideas behind palliative care is to minimise suffering and provide resources such as medicines and life-support machines, the underlying reason attributed to thr right of every individual to receive primary healthcare. This also includes human resources like nurses , social, spiritual, psychological aid if and when needed.

According to an estimate, some 61.5 million people across the world, suffering from various different health conditions, crucially require palliative care. While several countries promise palliative care as part of the universal health coverage package, millions of people across the globe go without. These people include individuals of all ages- children, adults, elderly. The diseases range from painful conditions to life-limiting sufferings. Some of these conditions are communicable and others are non-communicable. Palliative care provides essential help to all such people and their families.

Palliative care is cost effective and allows the patient to, if possible, receive necessary assistance in a place of his own choice. This cuts down the finances of hospitalisation and unnecessary laboratory tests. In this way, it doesn’t put a financial strain on the patient’s family.

For the reasons mentioned above, palliative care deserves a rightful place in universal health coverage. The countries and their governments, as well as the people of all communities, must unite in an attempt to ensure quality healthcare to every individual that requires it. The masses can make a huge contribution to this cause by being well-aware of this necessity, advocating for it on all platforms and helping those who require it to get access to it. In addition, nations should ensure palliative care holds a fundamental place in healthcare agendas of their political governments.

It must be understood that health is not a privilege, but a key human right and everyone must have proper and sufficient access to palliative aid. If represented responsibly and effectively, one day the world would wake up to a day when noone would have to compromise the health quality of one’s life because of lack of necessary facilities. And for that, we must not stop advocating until the demand has been met.

About the author

Fatima Irshad is a nineteen year old, first year medical student currently enrolled in Sheikh Zayed Medical College, Pakistan. She is highly active in medical awareness campaigns and is also associated with IFMSA-Pakistan. As an aspiring medical professional and occasional writer, she deems it an honour to express her views and advocate for rightful causes in the field of medicine through way of literary expression.

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