New Alliance Launched To Address Urgent Palliative Care Needs

Just recently the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) launched a new global action network designed to focus exclusively on hospice and palliative care development worldwide. The full press announcement can be found here .

More than 100 million people and their families worldwide need palliative care and support each year; however, it is estimated that only seven percent actually receive it, according to the release.

Dr. Cynthia Goh, co-chair of the WPCA, from the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network, noted, “Only 15 percent of the world’s countries have hospice and palliative care that is integrated with general health care, so the formation of the WPCA is tremendously positive step forward in helping to meet an overwhelming need.”

The Web site for the newly formed group is here.

Some definitions …

In talking with people across the country about end-of-life care issues, oftentimes I am asked about definitions of some of the most widely-used terms in this arena of health care, including palliative care and hospice.  ‘What’s the difference?’, people ask.

Here’s a brief reflection:  The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)(www.nhpco.org) defines palliative care as: “treatment that enhances comfort and improves the quality of an individual’s life during the last phase of life.”  One of the key distinctions between palliative care and hospice is that a standard hospice benefit under Medicare applies when a patient’s physician and the hospice medical director certify that a patient has a life expectancy of six (6) months or less, based on the ‘normal’ progression of the disease.  As representatives of Hospice Austin describe, while all hospice care is considered a part of palliative care, not all palliative care is hospice care. 

…Just some definitional food for thought which might be helpful as we think about end-of-life care times we all face.