By Katherine Pettus
Dr. Katherine I. Pettus, PhD, IAHPC Advocacy Officer for Palliative Care Medicines, brings the latest roundup of advocacy news.
This month’s column presents two recent cases of successful national advocacy for palliative care delivery: one in Malaysia, another in Zimbabwe. We hope they inspire you. To put the articles in the multilateral context — the international system of laws and governance — they represent the national implementation of international human rights standards regarding rights to life and health, and freedom from cruel and inhumane treatment.
It is important that governments and collaborating NGOs report these steps toward the realization of human rights standards in oral statements at multilateral meetings, so that other NGOs and governments can hear about best practices. National advocates can build relationships with the individuals and agencies representing their country at the multilateral level, giving them the necessary talking points and background information. It is key to educate civil servants regarding palliative care as an essential component of primary health care structure subsidized under Universal Coverage. Celebrating steps, such as the two described below, can inspire others to similar accomplishments.
On November 6, the Government of Malaysia launched its first National Palliative Care Policy and Strategic Plan, “A Nation Caring For Everyone Because They Matter,” to “provide compassionate care throughout the health care system.” The policy and plan were jointly developed by palliative care stakeholders from the Ministry of Health, local universities, and civil society — including Hospis Malaysia and the Malaysian Hospice Council.
The policy represents an official commitment and a clear roadmap outlining Malaysia’s commitment to the development of palliative care throughout the country. The three key principles are equity, sustainability, and quality. To achieve its goal, the policy employs seven strategies. Read more in this detailed report, submitted by Dr. Richard Lim, National Advisor for Palliative Medicine in the Malaysia Ministry of Health.
This month, after over two years of relentless advocacy, the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Zimbabwe (HOSPAZ) shared ground-breaking news with the international palliative care community: the government finally approved a new statutory instrument permitting trained nurses to administer, prescribe, and be in possession of morphine.
Regulations that limited morphine prescribing exclusively to doctors had been a major obstacle to palliative care service delivery in Zimbabwe. As in many African countries, there are too few doctors for large territories with many patients.
The new law is expected to have a profound impact on pain management and quality of life. This article submitted by Eunice Garanganga, Director of HOSPAZ, describes the advocacy process leading up to the new legislation.
Learn more about Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Zimbabwe (HOSPAZ) in the IAHPC Global Directory of Institutions and Organizations.
IAHPC is proud to serve as a platform for palliative care advocacy education, as stated in our mission. In November, we launched the first of two online courses, available free to members. The Basic Advocacy Course offers a roadmap to national organizations embarking on palliative care advocacy. Follow this link to the IAHPC course, which describes the multilateral framework, key institutions, and meetings in which we participate. A lecture on advocacy, delivered to coincide with the launch of Malaysia’s Palliative Care Policy, will give members a taste of the Basic Advocacy Course.
An Advanced Course, to be released in 2020, and for which we hope to be able to offer CMEs, will highlight wins as well as challenges. It will also lay out practical steps national advocates can take to promote palliative care at the United Nations and palliative care delivery at home.
We particularly encourage institutions and national associations to share these courses with their members. We hope to offer the courses to those working in government and global health, as well as clinical students.
National Advocates can participate in International Universal Health Coverage Day, being held on December 12, to highlight development of palliative care services. Too late for this year? Start organizing now for next year!
I will attend the Commission on Narcotic Drugs Meeting being held December 11-13 in Vienna; look for my report in the January newsletter.