Advocating for the democratization of palliative care through its implementation in the Universal Health Coverage

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Natan Viana Medeiros and Ms. Isabela Thomé Heleno, two 1st year medical students from the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF) in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

According to the World Health Organization, Universal Health Coverage (UHC) assures the access to health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care, without setting the users into financial troubles. Although it does not mean that all varieties of treatments will be available, the UHC offers a basic range of services to the citizens – focusing especially on Primary Health Care (PHC), as they represent an effective way of offering better assistance to the population. The PHC provides different health services, including palliative care. This interdisciplinary type of medical care consists in managing the suffering and the pain of patients with life-threatening diseases, as well as their families, which could improve not only their quality of life, but also their response to the treatments. In the context of increasing rates of noncommunicable diseases throughout the world, the number of people in need of palliative care is also rising – which results in the necessity of implementing it in an accessible way to everyone, not only to those able to afford private assistance.

            It would not be amiss to say that the majority of adults that requires palliative care come from middle-income countries, that are facing an epidemiological transition (from a prevalence of acute diseases to a predominance of chronic illness). For this reason, these areas are the ones whose populations are urging for palliative care. However, in these places, this service is not seen as an essential part of the health system, but as an additional service. Thus, it is often under the responsibility of the supplementary health system, which is restricted to citizens who have the expensive private health insurance. Consequently, just a minority will make use of its benefits – taking as an example, only few patients have the opportunity to receive physical and psychological support from this caregiving team, which increases their chance to live as actively and comfortably as possible. In order to allow all citizens to have access to these fundamental assistances, palliative care should be effectively included in the UHC.

Its implementation is feasible, because palliative care can be provided almost everywhere – in a hospital or even in the patient’s own house – and it can be done by either specially trained primary health care professionals or specialists in the area. Moreover, some studies have shown that its accomplishment could even reduce medical costs, not only from the patients itselves, but also from the Government⁽¹⁾. This implies that this kind of care, instead of being an unnecessary expenditure, should be considered as an investment in the health sector, given that it would bring improvements to the patient’s condition as well as to the allocation of resources from health management organizations. Therefore, it is needless to attest that palliative care should be implemented in the Universal Health Coverage. By doing so, the effects of the growing incidence of noncommunicable diseases and the spendings they cause to the health system of many countries could be diminished and the democratization of palliative care could finally be achieved.


About the authors

Natan Viana Medeiros is a 1st-year medical student at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF) in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. He is a member of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations of Brazil (IFMSA-Brazil), a national member organization of IFMSA. Isabela Thomé Heleno is a 1st-year medical student at Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora (UFJF) in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. She is a member of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations of Brazil (IFMSA-Brazil).

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 THE FIELD: India’s plastic waste revolution

Integration of migrants: Commission launches a public consultation and call for an expert group on the views of migrants

Human rights: breaches in Russia, the Rakhine State and Bahrain

How upskilling could help cities rebuild after Coronavirus

EntEx Organises 5 Summer Schools for Young Entrepreneurs across Europe in June/July 2014

The female struggle in the face of medical devaluation

‘The welfare of the Libyan people’ the UN’s sole agenda for the country, says Guterres in Tripoli

Dare to be vulnerable, and three other lessons in leadership

How businesses can create an ethical culture in the age of tech

The challenge to be a good healthcare professional

Act now to prevent Desert Locust catastrophe in Horn of Africa: UN agencies

The most unlikely innovators are changing ICT for development – it’s time we took notice

What is environmental racism?

Climate change: cutting the good by the root?

Guterres condemns killing of Bangladeshi peacekeeper in South Sudan, during armed attack on UN convoy

Venezuela’s needs ‘significant and growing’ UN humanitarian chief warns Security Council, as ‘unparalleled’ exodus continues

More than speed: 5G could become the next big economic driver

Asylum: more solidarity among EU member states and funds for frontline countries

European Commission requests that Italy presents a revised draft budgetary plan for 2019

Greener tourism: Greater collaboration needed to tackle rising emissions

Juncker’s Investment Plan in desperate need for trust and funds from public and private investors

Europe, US and Russia haggle over Ukraine’s convulsing body; Russians and Americans press on for an all out civil war

The “Colombo Declaration” adopted at the World Conference on Youth 2014

IMF: World cup and productivity

Cameron postpones speech in Holland

‘Great cause of concern’ UN chief tells Security Council, surveying ‘bleak’ state of civilian protection

1.1 billion people still lack electricity. This could be the solution

5 leadership lessons I learned from doing my own ‘undercover boss’

If we want to solve climate change, water governance is our blueprint

The World Health Organization has called on countries to ‘test, test, test’ for coronavirus – this is why

EU budget: Commission helps prepare new Cohesion programmes with Regional Competitiveness Index and Eurobarometer

Catalonia secessionist leader takes Flemish ‘cover’; Spain risks more jingoist violence

Marriage equality boosted employment of both partners in US gay and lesbian couples

Europe had a record year for Measles – and it’s partly down to anti-vaccine campaigners

From Policy to Reality: Discrepancies in Universal Health Care Systems across the EU

AI looks set to disrupt the established world order. Here’s how

Early healthcare investment is our best chance at healthy ageing

The EU sides with China against the US; but has Germany capitulated to America?

Preserving biodiversity vital to reverse tide of climate change, UN stresses on International Day

Educate children in their mother tongue, urges UN rights expert

Russia and the West to partition Ukraine?

GDPR and the World Cup have these 4 things in common

Your chocolate can help save the planet. Here’s how

ECB embarks on the risky trip to Eurozone banking universe

New rules to help consumers join forces to seek compensation

Thinking like Leonardo da Vinci will help children tackle climate change

Parliament approves EU rules requiring life-saving technologies in vehicles

World Bank downgrades global growth forecasts, poorest countries hardest hit

What we need is more (and better) multilateralism, not less

International Women’s Day 2019: more equality, but change is too slow

How to fix our planet: the pioneers fighting to bring nature back

How China Mended My Heart

Children are forgetting the names for plants and animals

Labels for tyres: deal for greener and safer road transport

Commission presents its response to Antisemitism and a survey showing Antisemitism is on the rise in the EU

The Ecofin deceives the SMEs with the EIB €10bn capital increase

Consumers suffer three defeats

Sexual exploitation and abuse: latest UN quarterly update

The economic effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus around the world

New VAT rules in the EU: how a digital sea could have become an ocean

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

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

You are commenting using your 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