Message from the Chair and Executive Director

2019; Volume 20, No 11, November

Message from the Chair and Executive Director

Dear Readers:

On October 12, to mark World Hospice Palliative Care Day, IAHPC launched a platform to facilitate access to the data produced by the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief. This data will underwrite the efforts of advocates, academics, public health experts, and policy makers to advance integration of palliative care in their countries. The IAHPC website houses the platform as a service to the global palliative care community.

This global data platform, created by researchers at the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas (UMIA) and the Mexican Health Foundation (FUNSALUD) using Tableau, provides users with statistics for serious health-related suffering (SHS) and the need for palliative care by income and geographic region for almost all countries.

The source of the data combines the Lancet Commission report, Alleviating the access abyss in palliative care and pain relief — an imperative of universal health coverage1, with an extensive, related database. The data from the report:

The release of this data platform satisfies a commitment adopted by advocates and researchers during the launch of the Lancet report at the University of Miami in April 2018 as a task of the Commission’s Implementation Working Group. At the time, global, regional, and national leaders, as well as researchers and advocates, made the commitment to disseminate the report’s results as part of a broader strategy leading to the integration of the essential package of palliative care health services2.

Serious health-related suffering (SRS) is associated with illness or injury of any kind that could be alleviated by palliative care or pain treatment. The Commission developed a framework for measuring the global burden of SHS across 20 life-limiting and life-threatening conditions most associated with a need for palliative care, and 15 associated physical and psychological symptoms.

Massive need revealed

The massive scale of human suffering uncovered by the report demonstrates the enormous need for palliative care and pain relief in our world. In 2015, more than 61 million people experienced six billion days of SHS from physical and psychological symptoms that palliative care and pain relief can ameliorate. More than 80% of this SHS burden occurred in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where access to palliative care, even oral immediate-release morphine for pain relief, is extremely limited. Every year almost 2.5 million children die with SHS and more than 98% of these children are in LMICs. A large proportion of the current SHS burden is associated with non-communicable chronic diseases such as cancer, dementia, cerebrovascular disease, and lung disease, a burden that will only increase as populations age. Globally, approximately 15 million cancer patients experience SHS every year.

The database is available on the IAHPC website. The full Lancet Commission report is available here; fact sheets, background information and a detailed description of the data are available here on the University of Miami website.

Addition & update
to the platform

An IAHPC online tutorial describing the database and the data visualization platform, and its uses and applications, will be available in late 2019. In early 2020, the database will be populated with updated numbers, including mortality, morbidity, and distributed number of opioids across countries.

We are extremely grateful to all the individuals and organizations who collaborated in this process, and especially Dr. Felicia Knaul and her team at the University of Miami for their work and for sharing this database with the world. We hope that this resource will help advance appropriate policies and implementation of the steps needed to alleviate SHS.

In other news

See photos from World Hospice Palliative Care Day.

IAHPC Members’ Recognition Month prize winners for loyalty and increasing membership will be announced soon. IAHPC benefits daily from the hard work of our members who are devoted to the advancement of hospice and palliative care worldwide. Thank you all!

Until next month,

Lukas Radbruch, MD

Liliana De Lima, MHA
Executive Director


1 Knaul FM, Farmer PE, Krakauer EL, et al. Alleviating the access abyss in palliative care and pain relief — an imperative of universal health coverage: The Lancet Commission report. Lancet 2018; 391(10128): 1391-454.
2 Supplement to: Knaul FM, Bhadelia A, Horton R. Health-related suffering: from Lancet Commission to DeclarAction. Lancet 2018; published online May 18. http://dx.doi org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31123-1

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