On death and dying: a dignified death is everyone’s right

(Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Isabelle Gualberto Souza, a 22 years old, 3rd year medical student at Centro Universitário FIPMoc from Montes Claros, Brazil. 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.


The only certainty we have in life is that we will die someday.

            Thus, discussing death and all the issues related to it is fundamental for the construction of the idea of ​​dignified death for all. In this perspective, palliative care is essential so that, based on the understanding that death is a natural process, inherent to all, we can, as students and health professionals, maintain this social movement giving the terminally ill patient the right to have a life and death with dignity.

            Nowadays, the current focus of medicine is based on the idea that the doctor must know how to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases, since contemporary medicine is guided by the idea of ​​“cure”, based on a rational, non-emotional and scientific model of medicine.

            This whole idea falls apart when the professional faces patients whom there is no chance of cure and death is an inevitable destiny. How to deal with a patient that I can’t cure?

            It is in this scenario that palliative care appears as an outlet for these patients, promoting quality of life for them and their families, through the prevention and relief of suffering.

            However, when we think about universal health coverage, what we see are insufficient investments to access this care practice to reach the entire population, being restricted to patients who can afford the costs. In this sense, what we perceived is a great inequality of access opportunities, with patients with less favored financial and social conditions being unable to have full access to palliative care, making it difficult to reach equity in health services.

            That’s why it is essential to join efforts in an attempt to include palliative care as an essential service in universal health coverage. The inclusion process must start from medical training with the insertion of classes to discuss life terminity and palliative care in the curriculum of medical courses, in addition to broader measures such as the allocation of resources for the development of palliative care services at all levels of health care and for all people in need.

            However, the current reality is that there is still a long way to go before health systems are able to offer access to palliative care at the end of life on an equal basis for the entire population because this type of assistance requires the construction and implementation of effective and appropriate practices that articulate services at all levels of health care, and the biggest part of the health systems around the world do not have structures to offer this type of service to the population, since they continue to be guided by the idea that health services are fundamentally curative.

            To summarize, a dignified death is everyone’s right, and we will only achieve this when we are able to reduce inequalities in the access to health systems and when we understand that living well is health and that dying well is health too. 

References

  1. Tamada JKT, Dalaneze AS, BoninI LMM, Melo TRC. Relatos médicos sobre a experiência do processo de morrer e a morte de seus pacientes. Rev Med. 2017; 96(2):81-87.
  2. Floriani CA, Schramm FR. Moral and operational challenges for the inclusion of palliative care in primary health care. Cad. Saúde Pública. 2007, 23(9):2072-2080.

About the author

Isabelle Gualberto Souza is a 22 years old, 3rd year medical student at Centro Universitário FIPMoc from Montes Claros, Brazil. She’s a member of the Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV and AIDS of IFMSA Brazil UNIFIPMoc since 2020.  She is a scientific research enthusiast and is currently a volunteer fellow in the scientific initiation program of her institution, developing research in the areas of public health and microbiology.  In addition, she is interested in issues about sexual health, maternal health, humanized medicine, care of the elderly and palliative care.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

From Sweden to India, School climate strikes have gone global

Close to final agreement on the EU Banking Union

Mergers: Commission fines Canon €28 million for partially implementing its acquisition of Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation before notification and merger control approval

Environment Committee MEPs push for cleaner trucks and electric buses

Here are six bold ideas to accelerate sustainable energy innovation

Employment MEPs want to ensure more flexibility and clarity for EU mobile workers

July was the hottest month ever – what does that actually mean?

Gender is where the feminist and LGBTI movements meet. Here’s why

Bold measures needed to protect cross-border and seasonal workers in EU, MEPs say

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

Where are the charities in the great Artificial Intelligence debate?

European Youth Forum welcomes steps towards raising awareness of youth rights by EU ministers

How a bionic arm is helping one little girl enjoy the things most take for granted

3 leaders on creating a pipeline for female talent in business

‘Nothing left to go back for’: UN News hears extraordinary stories of loss, and survival as Mozambique rebuilds from deadly cyclones

Canada needs to increase foreign aid flows in line with its renewed engagement

Climate change: Another year of record gas emissions, warns UN meteorological agency

JADE Generations Club: Connecting perspectives, changing Europe.

Banks can fight financial crime. But we can’t do it alone

Smoking VS Vaping: is it a battle?

Yes, together we can make a change! YO!Fest and EYE 2016

EU to Telcos: Stop Mergers and Acquisitions but please help me urgently with 5G development

UN receives ‘Humanium’ wristwatch gift, symbolizing peaceful transformation

COVID-19 and natural disasters: €823 million in EU aid for eight member states

The blackened white coat of the doctors

5 Black heroes of the environmental movement

Here are five ways we can make mental healthcare better

Is 2019 the beginning of the end for coal in Europe?

Primary Healthcare vs Specialization Careers, how to promote PHC to the Young Health Workforce?

ECB with an iron hand disciplines the smaller Eurozone member states; latest victim: Greece

The green hydrogen revolution has started, and it won’t be stopped

German banks suffer of nausea amidst rough seas

What is behind the wide reach of  fake news about Coronavirus?

Who will secure Lithuania?

After Rio Grande tragedy, UNICEF chief highlights ‘dire’ detention centres on US-Mexico border

US-China trade war: Washington now wants control of the renminbi-yuan

Portugal wants its emigrants back – so it’s paying them to return

Coronavirus: Commission presents “Staying safe from COVID-19 during winter” strategy

Why Obama asks approval from Congress to bomb Syria?

A quarter of Americans have no retirement savings

How to build an entrepreneurial university

European Commission launches infringement proceedings against the UK following its failure to name a candidate for EU Commissioner

10 ways COVID-19 could reshape offices

Eurozone closer to a deflation – stagnation trap

90% of European Jews say antisemitism is getting worse

The clothes of the future could be made from pineapples and bananas

Security Council gravely concerned by Ebola outbreak in DR Congo, demands immediate end to violence hampering response

Safer products: EP and Council close deal to beef up checks and inspections

“Unequivocal support” for the people of Bulgaria in their legitimate demands

How Cameron unwillingly helped Eurozone reunite; the long-term repercussions of two European Council decisions

European research priorities for 2021-2027 agreed with member states

Western Sahara: a ‘peaceful solution’ to conflict is possible, says UN envoy

Serious concerns over Sahel, require ‘urgent action’: Senior UN Africa official

We don’t know how autonomous vehicles will depreciate – and that’s a problem

Bayer-Monsanto merger: the story of the rise of the “endless company”

UN launches new fund to advance sustainable development in Aral Sea region

More countries are making progress on corruption – but there’s much to be done, says a new report

Strong multilateral institutions key to tackling world’s dramatic challenges, UN chief says In Moscow

The Italian crisis may act as a catalyst for less austerity

State aid: Commission approves Belgian scheme deferring payment by Walloon airports of concession fees to mitigate economic impact of coronavirus outbreak

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s