Palliative Care Definition

Palliative Care Definition

Palliative care is the active holistic care of individuals across all ages with serious health-related sufferingi due to severe illnessii, and especially of those near the end of life. It aims to improve the quality of life of patients, their families and their caregivers.

Palliative care:

To achieve palliative care integration, governments should:
  1. Adopt adequate policies and norms that include palliative care in health laws, national health programs and national health budgets;
  2. Ensure that insurance plans integrate palliative care as a component of programs;
  3. Ensure access to essential medicines and technologies for pain relief and palliative care, including pediatric formulations;
  4. Ensure that palliative care is part of all health services (from community health-based programs to hospitals), that everyone is assessed, and that all staff can provide basic palliative care with specialist teams available for referral and consultation;
  5. Ensure access to adequate palliative care for vulnerable groups, including children and older persons;
  6. Engage with universities, academia and teaching hospitals to include palliative care research as well as palliative care training as an integral component of ongoing education, including basic, intermediate, specialist, and continuing education.

To see the glossary of terms, click here.

i Suffering is health-related when it is associated with illness or injury of any kind. Health related suffering is serious when it cannot be relieved without professional intervention and when it compromises physical, social, spiritual and/or emotional functioning. Available in

ii Severe illness is any acute or chronic illness and/or health condition that carries a high risk of mortality, negatively impacts quality of life and daily function, and/or is burdensome in symptoms, treatments, or caregiver stress. Available at

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The IAHPC grants permission to use this definition for educational and scientific purposes, citing as follows:

IAHPC. Global Consensus based palliative care definition. (2018).Houston, TX: The International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care.
Retrieved from


192 representatives of organizations/institutions as well as 1232 individuals, have endorsed this consensus based definition.
The IAHPC invites other interested organizations and individuals to endorse it using the online signature page.

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Signatures will be collected until February 28th, 2019, when the list of individuals and organizations endorsing the definition will be submitted to the WHO.