Policy and advocacy

2015; Volume 16, No 1, January

Policy and advocacy

Dr. Katherine Irene Pettus, PhD, Advocacy Officer, Human Rights and Palliative Care, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care. Read her bio.

Policy and advocacy-related events in November 2014 included a meeting of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) International Palliative Care Program in Salzburg, attended by representatives from Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Tajikistan, Albania, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Romania, Kyrgyzstan and Southern Africa. All presented the work of their programs in an extremely rich three-day program. In addition, leading clinicians and advocates from around the world reported on their progress over the past year, including the historic 2014 World Health Assembly resolution on palliative care. The event was bittersweet, culminating in a farewell party for Mary Callaway and Kathy Foley, co-founders and directors of the OSF International Palliative Care Program. They introduced the group to the new program director, Duncan Wilson, a human rights attorney from Scotland, who will guide our advocacy strategies.

Following Salzburg, I participated in the 2nd Pediatric Conference on Palliative Care in Rome, hosted by the Fondazione Maruzza, and attended by 438 delegates from 55 countries. Italy is a world leader in the development of pediatric palliative care; having passed a law (38/2010) guaranteeing a child’s right to pediatric palliative care and pain management. I presented a poster for IAHPC and several IAHPC board members, Drs. Zipporah Ali, Gayatri Palat and Julia Downing RN, made plenary presentations and chaired panels. The Congress was also the occasion of the release of the Trieste Charter on the Rights of the Dying Child, which proposes ten fundamental rights for children who are approaching the end of their lives. Each right has a series of duties and the charter proposes the most appropriate manner to fulfill them. The Congress was an inspiring and educational event and provided the opportunity for fruitful strategizing about policy, advocacy and networking with new and well-known colleagues. View more information on the program and abstracts.

The first week of December was the reconvened meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which included a preparatory session on the 2016 UNGASS (United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs). IAHPC is particularly interested and involved in the work of the CND because it is the UN agency, governed by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which produces the dominant global narrative on drug control. This narrative includes promoting improved international and domestic access to essential opioid medicines such as morphine and methadone.

IAHPC, in collaboration with other non-governmental organization partners, has been building positive relationships with delegates from CND member states, and the issue of improving access to opioid medicines controlled under the three international narcotics treaties now gets a lot of airtime on the floor. Representatives of many member states spoke up to urge countries to improve access for palliative care, dependence treatment, and pain relief.

All in all, it has been a very positive and productive year for IAHPC advocacy at many levels. Many congratulations to all our dedicated and passionate partners around the world on facing challenges and achieving success. May 2015 be even better as palliative care advances around the world!

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