Update on proceedings at the World Health Assembly 2016 - by Dr Stephen Connor, WHPCA
The 2016 World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting was important to the global palliative care community for several reasons. The WHA is the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO) and sets priorities for WHO to act on. First, the 2014 resolution on “Strengthening palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course” required that Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, to report on progress implementing the resolution. The report was delayed until late in the WHA. Some member states, observers and NGO’s spoke up in favor of keeping a focus on palliative care into the future but it’s not clear how high a priority the resolution implementation will be. Thus the global palliative care community needs to redouble efforts at international palliative care development using the WHA resolution as leverage.
In addition to the WHO report we produced a civil society parallel report on progress in implementing the resolution. Our civil society report called for three actions:
1. Donor countries make funds available to fully implement the resolution.
2. Countries should ensure palliative care is covered under national Universal Health Coverage plans.
All countries should adopt national strategies for palliative care implementation that includes universal health professional training and access to all essential palliative care medicines.
3. Countries should ask the WHO to provide its next progress report on implementation of the palliative care resolution in to the World Health Assembly in 2018.
Second there were a number of other important activities and side events at the WHA that needed palliative care input including: 1) cancer control, 2) healthy ageing reports and strategies, 3) non-communicable disease prevention and control, 4) access to controlled medicines, 4) inclusion of palliative care in WHO’s person centered care program, and 5) the importance of inclusion of a palliative care indicator to help in monitoring of Universal Health Coverage as part of SDG Health Goal 3.
It has become clear that when important policy issues that involve palliative care are debated in UN Forums, if there are no palliative care advocates present palliative care is unlikely to be included in reports and recommendations. We have to be there to say “Wait you forgot to include palliative care.”
Important documents to download on this subject include:
The WHA palliative care resolution http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/documents/s21454en/s21454en.pdf
The WHO progress report on the resolution http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA69/A69_43-en.pdf
A civil society report on resolution progress http://www.ehospice.com/Default/tabid/10686/ArticleId/19399/
Article on the WHA meeting
Update on the implementation of the resolution http://www.ehospice.com/Default/tabid/10686/ArticleId/19399/