Open Society Foundations
The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. To achieve this mission, the Foundations seek to shape public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. The Foundations place a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities.
Investor and philanthropist George Soros established the Open Society Foundations, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. The Foundations have since grown to encompass the United States and more than 60 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Public Health Program and International Palliative Care Initiative
The Open Society Public Health Program supports marginalized populations to fight discrimination and protect their fundamental rights. The program aims to build societies committed to inclusion, human rights, and justice, in which health-related policies and practices reflect these values and are based on evidence. The Public Health Program consists of 11 core projects and initiatives and is primarily active in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Southern and Eastern Africa, Southeast Asia, and China.
The Public Health Program’s International Palliative Care Initiative works to improve end-of-life care for patients and their families, with a special focus on vulnerable populations including the elderly, children, and patients with cancer or AIDS. The initiative has four objectives:
• to increase public awareness about end-of-life care issues;
• to provide palliative care education to health care professionals and support the integration of palliative care into medical and nursing school curricula;
• to make essential drugs for pain and symptom management easily available;
• to integrate palliative care into national health care plans, policies, and systems of care.
Community-based, nongovernmental organizations are far ahead of the government in addressing the palliative care needs of dying HIV/AIDS patients and their families, especially at a grassroots level. The International Palliative Care Initiative serves as a resource to establish an international network of individuals and organizations committed to improving care for patients with life-limiting illness and their families. The initiative also supports efforts to improve governmental health policies that affect the delivery of palliative care services.
In the coming years, the initiative will expand its reach to additional countries, and will continue to provide technical assistance to previously funded programs.