Palliative Care In Universal Health Care: A Right or A Privilege?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Hind E.S Elobied, a medical student of the third period at Alzaiem Alazhari university, Khartoum-Sudan. 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.


 “An Advocacy for Leaving No One Behind”

(Till the living moment, patients all over the world are dying with their unbearable pain, living with deteriorating psychological status, while in fact there is a guaranteed right that alleviates them suffer)

Since the launching of the sustainable development goals in September 2015, to be achieved in 2030, The third goal, health and good well being took a wide curve of concern, especially when it comes to universal health coverage UHC. In short terms, UHC provides a spectrum of health services for all communities without suffering from financial hardship, including but not limited to, palliative care. palliative care is a holistic care for those who suffering from life-threatening illnesses, in all ages, by providing medical, psychological, and spiritual support.

The importance of a thing comes from the need for it, in which the definition of palliative care entails and imply, yet the still Widespread unfamiliarity with the palliative care approach to serious health-related suffering challenges palliative care implication at all levels, especially in low- and middle-income countries, where palliative care UHC and primary health care is seen nowhere. therefore, to ensure the concept of leaving -no one- behind, the advocacy for the inclusion of palliative care in policies and norms is now a call of duty.

According to WHO, each year, an estimated 40 million people are in need of palliative care; 78% of them people live in low- and middle-income countries, while only about 14% of people who need palliative care currently receive it, worldwide. And the global need for palliative care is rising in a continuous fashion. The key of palliative care advocacy could have two pillars: 1. Reaching the unmet needs of PC in countries already adopted the approach, and 2. Establishing and inception of the PC approach in deprived countries; middle and low-income countries, within their health systems. Both pillars need the same steps of a coordinated advocacy. Starting from national associations, spreading the awareness regarding the importance of PC, to the formulation of PC policy commitment between multilateral and multisectoral parties, agreed by the government, to target where palliative care problems root. As insurance plan for PC, access to essential medicines and technologies for pain relief and palliative care, ensure that palliative care is part of all health services, both community based and hospitals care services, training PC teams, and most importantly engaging with patients and co-patients as part of integrated people-based health services, and for sure, PC researches with different universities and hospitals.

With all this being said, the realization of the UHC and health care services being not only limited to provision of treatment, yet extending to the patient last days is important, and the familiarization of palliative care approach being a right not privilege, a right with public and universal policy, is crucial. All the unnecessary hospitalization and unfavorable health conditions can be improved by the palliative care. Since the health right is a holistic right, why we still elusive when it comes to palliative care?

About the author

The author of this article is Hind E.S Elobied, a medical student of the third period at Alzaiem Alazhari university, Khartoum-Sudan. She is a public health enthusiast and especially at the area of health systems, and universal health coverage. She is working and looking forward for the day when universal health coverage is inclusively achieved worldwide.

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