Policy & Advocacy

Volume 24, Number 11: November 2023
Irena Laska and Simone Cernesi represented IAHPC at WHO's European regional meeting. Photo used with permission.

Advocacy Update: WHO meetings, collaborations & notable firsts

Katherine I. Pettus, PhD
IAHPC Senior Advocacy & Partnerships Director

October saw IAHPC delegations at two regional meetings of the World Health Organization, one in the Western Pacific region (RC74) convened in Manila, and the other in the European region (RC73) convened in Astana, Kazakhstan. Dr. Mari Joanne Joson, president of the Philippine Society of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and nurse Edmar Elcarte served as IAHPC delegates for the Manila meeting. Drs. Simone Cernesi and Irena Laska flew to Astana (at their own expense) from Italy and Albania respectively, to serve on the IAHPC delegation for Astana. 

You can watch Dr. Cernesi’s three-minute statement on refugee and migrant health and Dr. Laska’s two-minute statement on pandemic preparedness, response, and resilience on YouTube. You can read all our statements on IAHPC's Advocacy Initiatives page. IAHPC Board Member Dr. Victoria Hewitt and I helped to prepare the delegations, draft the video texts, and consult on joint statements available on the WHO regional sites for all attending member states. We were honored to collaborate with the World Federation of Neurology on an oral statement read in plenary. 

“Palliative care and neurology share a crucial and interconnected role in improving the quality of life for individuals living with severe and progressive neurological conditions, such as motor neurone diseases, advanced neurodegenerative disorders and some others.” 

—from the IAHPC-World Federation of Neurology joint statement

Dr. Joson wrote the following about her experience as a delegate, and how it may reshape care in the Philippines:

Edmar Elcarte and Marie Joanne Joson represented the IAHPC at WHO's Western Pacific regional meeting. Photo used with permission.

"Attending the WHO meeting in Manila as a delegate was inspiring and instructive. I learned how statements were presented and approved; though visibly nervous, many people participated. I was amazed by the excitement of different country representatives when presenting their contributions to improve health care. As we were not chosen to talk about our statements, I focused on learning about health innovations. I became interested in how to integrate digitalization of palliative care, especially at the community level: community morale, norms, and public knowledge are important. Evidence-based guidance to bridge gaps between research and practice are needed to implement innovations, such as electronic medical records and telemedicine. These new ideas shifted my perspective to encourage our trainees in palliative medicine to focus on health innovation, as digitalization has the potential to profoundly reshape the world of hospice and palliative medicine."

Want to serve as a delegate? Or learn to advocate for palliative care locally?

IAHPC members interested in representing IAHPC as delegates in their region—or attending global multilateral meetings in Geneva, Vienna, or New York—should take my Advocacy Course, and then contact me for more information about how to apply. The course is designed for practitioners who want to learn more about becoming more effective advocates to improve palliative care in their region or country.

Call to action for essential medicines in conflict areas

IAHPC collaborated with PallCHASE and several other organizations to draft a joint “Statement and Call for Action from the Global Palliative Care Community Regarding Access to Controlled Medicines in Conflict Settings.” Please share among your networks.

Philippines marks World Day theme with webinar

I had the honor of presenting on “Compassionate Faith Communities” at a webinar titled "Designing Compassionate Communities, Strengthening Palliative Care in the Grassroots as an Essential Part of Universal Health Care," organized jointly by the Ruth Foundation and National Hospice and Palliative Care Association of the Philippines.

First International Day of Care and Support 

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed October 29 as the International Day of Care and Support. It invited “all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other global, regional and subregional organizations, as well as other relevant stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, academia and individuals,” to observe this date each year “to raise awareness of the importance of care and support and its key contribution to the achievement of gender equality and the sustainability of our societies and economies, as well as of the need to invest in a resilient and inclusive care economy, including the development of strong and resilient care and support systems.” 

You can read my blog on the first International Day of Care and Support. Effective palliative care relies on both paid and unpaid care work in both health care institutions and the home, however that is defined. 

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

Contact Dr. Katherine Pettus

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