Every year, an estimated 40 million people worldwide require palliative care, of which 78% live in low and middle-income countries. Despite the recognition of palliative care as a human right through the 2018 Declaration of Astana, only estimated 14% of people who need to be relieved of suffering by means of early identification, impeccable assessment, and treatment of pain, actually receive it.
As health systems become increasingly strained as a result of COVID-19, providing safe and effective palliative care faces more challenges than before. Not only are patients deteriorating quickly, but health professionals are overworked, resources are limited, and isolation is mandated. This situation will be compounded in most in low-income and middle-income countries where shortages are greater, protective equipment is running short and surging deaths could overwhelm usual service provision.
Against this background, this roundtable explores the urgent need for specialist palliative care services during COVID-19. In addition, speakers seek to answer the following questions.
What are the unique barriers to the delivery of palliative care that COVID-19 has posed in country specific contexts? What are the short- and long-term strategies needed to resolve issues of palliative care? And what is the role of governments in its delivery? How can experiences of delivering palliative care successfully in other contexts be useful to inform the practices of others?
Dr. Marie-Charlotte Bouësseau, Advisor, Department of Integrated Health Services, World Health Organization (WHO)
Ms Lucy Watts, MBE, Founder - Palliative Care Voices
Dr. Farzana Khan, IAHPC Advocacy Ambassador for Bangladesh and RESPIRE Affiliated Member, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh
Dr Zipporah Ali, Executive Director of Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association
Chair: Robert Yates, Director, Global Health Programme and Executive Director, Centre for Universal Health, Chatham House
Co-chair: Claire Morris, Director of Advocacy, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance
Rest of the speakers TBA