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New study finds 42 per cent of countries have no provision for palliative care

10/08/2011 00:00:00
A new study by the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) and Lancaster University finds that, out of the world’s 234 countries, only 136 (58 per cent) have one or more hospice or palliative care services available to seriously ill people and their families and carers.

The report, launched on Saturday 8 October to mark World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2011, raises fresh concerns that worldwide too many communities are living and dying without adequate care, support and pain relief.

The mapping study, done in association with the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University in the UK, was last carried out five years ago. The new report does show that some progress has been made since then, particularly in the development of services in Africa.

However, with an ageing population and global concern about the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the WPCA is today calling for palliative care to be accessible to everyone facing a serious life-threatening illness, including the growing number of people living with NCDs.

Globally, an estimated 100 million patients and family caregivers would benefit from hospice and palliative care, but as today’s report shows, only fraction currently have access to it. Hospice and palliative care improves quality of life by providing physical, emotional, social and spiritual support for people affected by life-limiting conditions throughout the course of their illness.

A fundamental component of palliative care is pain treatment but at present, 80 per cent of the world’s population live in countries with no or low access to medications to treat moderate to severe pain.

On World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2011, thousands of people in around 80 countries will be coming together at more than 1,000 events to celebrate, support and speak up about hospice and palliative care.

To find out more about World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2011 visit

The full report will also be available to download from

Principle authors:
• Thomas Lynch PhD, International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK
• David Clark PhD, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Glasgow, UK
• Stephen R. Connor PhD, Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance