This month we kick off the annual IAHPC fundraising campaign that is more vital this year than ever before, due to the end of an important long-standing grant. Many readers mistakenly believe that the IAHPC is financially well off. We aren’t! We are facing financial challenges that threaten our ability to continue advocating for a world free from health-related suffering. A successful November fundraiser is necessary to support individuals and groups aspiring to establish and extend palliative care services, especially in lower-income countries.
The majority of our funds support the core projects and programs that advise palliative care providers and their associations about how to work with policy makers to integrate palliative care into primary health care. Our advocacy has already entrenched palliative care in key global and documents that guide regional and international health policies. Now the challenge is to make these real at the national and regional levels.
Fewer than 1% of visitors to the IAHPC website—including our powerhouse resource, Pallipedia—and subscribers to our newsletter support our work financially. If you are linked to a foundation with unspent funds at year’s end, please consider donating them to support the work of IAHPC: we promise that not a penny will be wasted. We invite all our readers to contribute whatever amount feels comfortable, and reflects how you value our work, to the IAHPC today. If you or your institution is not a member, please join us. Every single donation, no matter the amount, means a lot. It means that you believe in, and share in, our mission to serve as a global platform to inspire, inform, and empower individuals, governments, and organizations to increase access to, and optimize the practice of, palliative care.
As members, you have access to our most recent, highly praised courses: how to assess and manage pain, how to assess and manage symptoms other than pain that occur frequently in palliative care, and building and strengthening partnerships to accelerate advocacy for palliative care.
Another example of how the IAHPC carries out its mission is our annual Recognition Awards Program, which recognizes individuals and institutions dedicated to improving the quality of life of patients and their families by alleviating serious health-related suffering. The awards bring winning individuals and institutions to the attention of policy makers, other institutions, and relevant organizations. [See the News section for details.]
Please respond to our call for help. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Research is one of the four pillars of our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, along with advocacy, education, and information dissemination. We just closed our member survey on euthanasia and assisted dying practices. In many countries assisted dying practices have either been decriminalized, legalized, or the issues are currently being debated in the legislatures. News and comment about these practices and legal proposals are becoming increasingly common in the media. Palliative care workers may be confronted with these issues at their institutions and in some cases—where these practices are legal—may be mandated to provide these services to patients.
We are quite concerned about the normalization of these practices, which divert investments in palliative care and may even be applied to persons not facing the end of life. Recent news articles describe Canada’s extremely liberal Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) law that, next year, is set to be extended to include people suffering from mental health conditions and, potentially, children. Human rights experts, ethicists, and many palliative care professionals have spoken up against the Canadian law, which allows individuals to request MAiD if they are too poor to continue living with dignity (if, say, they can’t afford housing). Criticism stems from the fact that the Canadian government is willing to finance their deaths instead of allocating sufficient funds to provide housing and other essentials.
We disagree with assisted dying practices becoming the means to end the lives of persons facing social and economic challenges. Nor do we believe that it is up to governments to solve social problems single-handedly.
We believe in the fundamental importance of empathy, which grounds our ability to connect and care for each other. Globalization and migration have separated many people from their friends and loved ones, leaving older persons with little or no social support. Have we lost the sense of caring? Governments do not have the human or financial resources—nor do they provide the compassion and care—that comes from loved ones. We need to build strong, compassionate communities where persons are not left alone in their suffering and support each other in difficult times. This is the ethos of palliative care.
Until next month,
Lukas Radbruch, MD
Liliana De Lima, MHA