Policy and Advocacy

2017; Volume 18, No 7, July

Policy and Advocacy

Preparing for IAHPC’s participation at the UN meeting in New York . . .

Dr. Katherine I. Pettus, PhD, IAHPC Advocacy Officer for Palliative Care Medicines, gives a glimpse of the huge amount of preparation that lies behind the meetings that she will attend next month in New York.

‘Team Global Palliative Care Advocacy’, consisting of the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) as well as IAHPC, has been busy preparing for the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations in July. Forty-four member states will present their progress towards several goals of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development at the HLPF and we would like to ensure that one or more mentions progress in developing palliative care.

According to the United Nations (UN) website, the theme of the HLPF will be ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world’. The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be the following, including Goal 17, ‘Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development’.

Forty-four states have volunteered to report on their progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, including many countries in which IAHPC has both institutional and individual members. Team Global Palliative Care Advocacy is urging member states to prioritize Target 3.8, achievement of Universal Health Coverage in their reports, noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) definition includes palliative care. Goal 3 also includes improving access to essential medicines, which of course include morphine, and essential palliative care medicines. WHO just updated its Model List of Essential Medicines to include methadone and fentanyl. IAHPC’s Opioid Price Watch monitors the affordability and availability of essential palliative care medicines, particularly oral morphine.

Some examples of IAHPC’s advocacy work

IAHPC is committed to assisting our membership to ensure that their national Essential Medicines lists are up to date and contain at least the bare minimum needed for the patient population estimated to need palliative care. We are also committed to assisting providers, upon request, to advocate for improved access to essential medicines, through regional workshops.

As part of our effort to develop the narrative of how palliative care can be a ‘best buy’ for countries retooling resource-challenged healthcare systems, IAHPC presented a poster at the 15th European Association for Palliative Care World Congress in Madrid. The poster, adapted and pictured here, explains how community-based palliative care can support countries to achieve several Targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We also supported the new organization, CariPalCA (Caribbean Palliative Care Association), in their request to the Honorable Courtney Rattray, Permanent Representative to the UN for Jamaica, to include palliative care in the Ministerial Declaration of the HLPF. (Read more here). Ambassador Rattray is one of two diplomats appointed to coordinate the drafting, a position that provides our Caribbean colleagues with the opportunity to create an important connection at the United Nations and try to get palliative care into the language of the Declaration. The concept note and cover letter from CariPalCA will be uploaded to the NGO Major Group website.

Procedurally speaking, the only way for civil society organizations such as ours to officially participate in the HLPF is through a Stakeholder Group. These are organized by populations, such as women, indigenous persons, business groups, etc. rather than topic, such as health. I am helping to draft the Goal 3 paper of the Health Cluster of the ‘Major Group’, as well as in the Stakeholder Group on Ageing, and I am trying to ensure that the words ‘palliative care’ appear in both. As a start, the concept note and cover letter from CariPalCA will be uploaded to the Major Group website.

I will be participating in the New York meeting itself, advocating for palliative care under Universal Health Coverage, and availability of essential medicines, in my capacity as IAHPC Advocacy Officer, and also as a member of the Geneva and New York Non-Governmental Organizations Committees on Ageing, and the International Federation on Ageing. Dr. Stephen Connor of WHPCA will also be attending for some days.

Prior to the HLPF, there will be a meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, also at the United Nations, to begin discussing the elements of a binding international convention to protect the rights of older persons. The guiding questions are on the rights to equality and non-discrimination and to be free from neglect, violence and abuse. Both of these implicate the provision and absence of palliative care, so IAHPC will be submitting statements that will be available next month.

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