Free healthcare to saves lives

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Rim Chehab and Mr. Hussein Ghassani, two Lebanese 21 years old, fourth year students at the Lebanese University faculty of Medical Sciences, Beirut. 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.

“Hospice and palliative care is a basic need for any individual because Health Coverage must be provided for all whether their condition is curable or terminal.”

When the Doctor told “X” she has stage 4 lung cancer, a life threatening illness, letting her battle the uncertainty of life and death. She was told she might still have a few months or even some years to live, it’s hard to imagine her feelings especially when her future is unclear, full of fear, hope and agony where even doctors cannot give a cutting edge answer . That’s why, she was referred to palliative care along with her therapy plan.

Here, in palliative care the goal is not to cure, but to help patients and families who are facing serious illness to improve their quality of life with the help and assistance of an interdisciplinary team, alleviating life’s discomfort and accepting death.

Unlike the misconception ruling it, palliative care does not necessarily mean that the person is dying. Many people are actually cured and will eventually leave the hospice. Patients will not only receive care in their last days but throughout their whole journey. In fact, referral time for patients varies: some people are referred whilst still receiving disease-modifying treatment, others when a decision has been taken to discontinue such treatment.

Palliative care is about what the patient really needs, it’s about finding the courage to face reality, and to talk about realistic hope, and when in need, talking openly about death with a specialist and understanding the aspects of “end of life”, ideally leaving this world in dignity and peace. Respecting the human being in the patient as well as validating the loss of their loved ones.

In addition to that, it’s highly indispensable to stress on the fact that Palliative care is NOT a privilege. Starting from the pillars of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), it’s a basic human to get affordable access to healthcare, not to exclude palliative care here, for it’s crucial impact in positively improving the patient’s and their family’s life.

No one should go bankrupt when they get sick. Worldwide, only 14% of people who need palliative care currently receive it due to the immense economic burden on the family.  As medical students, it’s our utmost duty to advocate for the fact that good health transforms societies! Always reminding the public that health for ALL is critical in order to build the future we want to live in, where no one is left behind and vulnerabilities are diminished.

Moreover, palliative care is cost effective and affordable: evidence from 38 studies indicates that on average 33–38% of patients near the end of life received Non-beneficial treatments in hospital. We, as a collective, need to accept that palliative care alleviates suffering and improves the quality of life of adults and children with life-limiting communicable and non communicable conditions and illnesses, those who are particularly vulnerable to catastrophic expenditure on health.


  1. Why palliative care must be included in Universal Health Coverage
  2. Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care
  3. Palliative care
  4. NG142 Evidence review B
  5. Harm of Unnecessary Hospitalization for Patients With Low-Risk Syncope
  6. Non-beneficial treatments in hospital at the end of life: a systematic review on extent of the problem

About the author

Rim Chehab is Lebanese 21 years old, third year medical student in the Lebanese University, Beirut (LU). Currently, she is the Public relations and communication representative in the Lebanese Red Cross Youth Sector, local officer on human rights and peace in the Lebanese Medical Students International Committee, and secretary of Donner Sang Compter club LU. In addition to that, she has a high sense of community engagement, advocating for public health matters aimed at serving the vulnerable populations locally and globally. Her objective is to combine her scientific medical studies with her artistic background in order to build a holistic perspective in life.

Hussein Ghassani is a Lebanese 21 years old, fourth year student at the Lebanese University faculty of Medical Sciences, Beirut. He is a general member of the Lebanese Medical Students International Committee, interested in Medical Education and in Research, he’s a young writer that believes in the power of words and choices.

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