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Monday, August 4, 2008

Leading Organizations Call for Recognition of Palliative Care and Pain Treatment as Human Rights

The International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC), the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) and different organizations from around the world will issue today a Joint Declaration and Statement of Commitment calling for the recognition of Palliative Care and Pain Treatment as Human Rights.

The Declaration and Statement have been jointly developed and signed by representatives of several international and regional organizations from Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Asia and North America. The Declaration will be presented on Monday, August 4th at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.

This is the first time that a Joint Declaration has been developed and signed by a collection of leading international organizations in the field of palliative care, hospice, pain, cancer, HIV/AIDS and others.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), only a minority of the more than 1 million people who die each week receive palliative care to alleviate their suffering. Developing countries, which represent about 80 percent of the world's population, account for only about six percent of global consumption of morphine, a mainstay therapy for palliative care and pain control.

“Even today, many health care plans, laws and treatment strategies for life-limiting conditions, such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, do not allow adequate access to palliative care and pain management,” according to Liliana De Lima, Executive Director of the IAHPC.

“Patients have physical symptoms and special psychosocial and spiritual needs which require appropriate care. Their family members and their caregivers also suffer the emotional and social consequences of the diseases and their treatments. With adequate palliative care and pain treatment, most patients and their families can be relieved from their suffering, and the quality of their lives can be improved significantly. We want to bring this to the attention of policy makers and funders with this Declaration so that palliative care is included as a component of care in addition to prevention, early detection and active treatment.”

Sharon Baxter, Executive Director of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and Chair of the WPCA Advocacy Committee stated that “This is an unprecedented collective effort by representatives from healthcare and patient advocacy organizations from around the world working together to achieve seven specific goals in palliative care and pain management.”

The seven goals in the Declaration are:
1/ Identify, develop and implement strategies for the recognition of palliative care and pain treatment as fundamental human rights.

2/ Work with governments and policy makers to adopt the necessary changes in legislation to ensure appropriate care of patients with life-limiting conditions.

3/ Work with policy makers and regulators to identify and eliminate regulatory and legal barriers that interfere with the rational use of controlled medications.

4/ Advocate for improvements in access to and availability of opioids and other medications required for the effective treatment of pain and other symptoms common in palliative care, including special formulations and appropriate medications for children.

5/ Advocate for adequate resources to be made available to support the implementation of palliative care and pain treatment services and providers where needed.

6/ Advocate for academic institutions, teaching hospital and universities to adopt the necessary practices and changes needed to ensure that palliative care and pain positions, resources, personnel, infrastructures, review boards and systems are created and sustained.

7/ Encourage and enlist other international and national palliative care, pain treatment, related organizations, associations, federations and interested parties to join this global campaign for the recognition of palliative care and pain treatment as human rights.

“The Declaration will be used by non-governmental organizations, professional organizations, federations, alliances and civic-minded individuals to bring palliative care and pain treatment to the attention of policy makers, regulators, governments and organizations in order to improve the care of patients with life-limiting conditions, and to provide support to their families and loved ones,” Ms. Baxter stated.

The Joint Declaration and Statement of Commitment is also scheduled to be presented in meetings sponsored by cancer, palliative care and pain management organizations throughout the rest of the year.

The IAHPC and WPCA invite other interested organizations and individuals to sign the Declaration using the online signature page at

Signatures will be collected until October 11th, the date of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, at which point list of individuals and organizations singing on the Declaration will be published.

Both Ms. De Lima and Ms. Baxter remarked: "We are very grateful with the board members of IAHPC, WPCA and the representatives of several organizations who collaborated in this process. We are especially grateful with Mr. Jonathan Cohen and Ms. Tamar Ezer from the Open Society Institute for their technical and legal support in the preparation of the Declaration. We are also very grateful with Dr. Eduardo Ibarra, president of the Latin American Federation of IASP Chapters, for his valuable suggestions."

To read and sign the Declaration, visit

For additional information, please see:
International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care:
Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance:
Hospice Palliative Care Day:

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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