Policy and Advocacy

2020; Volume 21, No 10, October

We Welcome Five New IAHPC Advocacy Focal Points

By Katherine Pettus, PhD
IAHPC Advocacy Officer for Palliative Care Medicines

Dear readers, please join me in welcoming five additions to the Advocacy Focal Point cohort, listed below with the countries they represent. All 13 Advocacy Focal Points will now work with their governments to report their national palliative care challenges and achievements at meetings of the UN organizations, such as the World Health Assembly, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing.

These palliative care leaders add to the wealth of expertise of the first Advocacy Focal Point cohort, comprising:

The team’s first task

The new Advocacy Focal Point team will hit the ground running. There will be a virtual Special Session of the World Health Organization Executive Board (EB) meeting on October 5 and 6, and almost all 13 members of the expanded team work in countries that are members of the EB. India is President of the EB and Germany is President of the European Union delegation to the EB. The Advocacy Focal Points will bring the issue of pandemic palliative care response and preparedness in their countries to the attention of their government officials preparing statements for the meeting. We encourage governments to report on how they plan to integrate palliative care into their national responses and preparedness planning, per Op 7.7 of WHA Resolution 73/1. The WHO noncommunicable diseases division has reported that palliative care services have been significantly disrupted during the pandemic. The IAHPC membership survey confirms this. [See the survey’s quantitative results in the September issue of the Newsletter, and a report on respondents’ patient care issues in this newsletter.]

IAHPC has written a letter to the former President of New Zealand, the Rt. Hon. Helen Clarke, and the former President of Liberia, Ms. Helen Johnson-Sirleaf, in their role as Co-chairs of the WHO Independent Panel on Preparedness and Response. The panel will be updating the WHO Executive Board delegates on their work, and we are requesting that their report mention the disruption of palliative care services and the need to integrate palliative care into preparedness planning. We included a link to the Joint Statement by the WHO, the International Narcotics Control Board, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime regarding the ethical obligation of governments to ensure that their populations have adequate access to controlled essential medicines during the pandemic and the recommendations of the updated palliative care and COVID-19 briefing note, “How pandemics affect health systems and resource allocation: impact on palliative care.”

A two-part recommendation

Our Advocacy Focal Points will recommend that their governments do the following.

  1. Audit and map their country’s palliative care services for national health system response and preparedness planning, so that health systems planners can determine workforce training and medication procurement needs for optimal service delivery. National palliative care associations will be key informants in this process.
  2. Report on the adequacy of their country’s pandemic palliative care response in their national statement at the WHO Executive Board, including information to be supplied by the national palliative care associations.

The IAHPC Serious Health-Related Suffering Database is an essential tool in this work, as it disaggregates data by member state and condition.

Last but not least

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) will hold an intersessional meeting on October 21 to discuss member states’ progress in following the recommendations of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration, which commits member states to “ensure access to and the availability of controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, including for the relief of pain and suffering, and address existing barriers in this regard, including affordability” [emphasis ours].

The CND website describes the intersessional theme as follows: "The availability of internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, including for the relief of pain and palliative care, remains low to nonexistent in many parts of the world." The Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs will select five civil society speakers to address the situation in their countries through video link.

We have recommended applicants who can describe their constructive work with governments to improve access under the challenging circumstances of the pandemic. Follow us on twitter for news of the livestream so you can follow the discussion, and hear what your country representative has to say. I will report on the session in the next newsletter.

Until then, thanks for all your work. It keeps me going!



Learn more about IAHPC member MEDOPAL in the Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.

Learn more about IAHPC lifetime member Colombian Association of Palliative Care (ACCP) in the Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.

Learn more about IAHPC member Palliative Care Association of Colombia (ASOCUPAC) in the Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.

Learn more about IAHPC lifetime member University Hospital Bonn in the Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.

Learn more about IAHPC member the Indian Association for Palliative Care in the Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.

Learn more aboutPrograma Argentino de Medicina Paliativa - Fundación FEMEBA in the Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.

Learn more about IAHPC lifetime member Palliative Care Australia in the Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.

Learn more about IAHPC member Fasiuddin Khan Research Foundation in the Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.

Learn more about IAHPC member Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association in the Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions and Organizations.


Do you have any comments or questions about this piece or our advocacy program?

Contact Dr. Katherine Pettus



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