Palliative Care

Integrating palliative care into health care: WHO guides for planners, implementers and managers

The objective of these guides is to provide practical guidance on integrating palliative care and symptom relief into health care systems. It is intended, to assist anyone involved with planning, implementing, managing palliative care and symptom control. With this guide, WHO reiterates its commitment to answering the needs and expectations of all people, especially the most vulnerable, providing equitable access to quality and safe care across disease and age groups.

Why palliative care is important?

Palliative care is a crucial part of integrated, people-centred health services (IPCHS). Nothing is more people-centred than relieving their suffering, be it physical, psychological, social, or spiritual. Thus, whether the cause of suffering is cancer or major organ failure, drug-resistant tuberculosis or severe burns, end-stage chronic illness or acute trauma, extreme birth prematurity or extreme frailty of old age, palliative care may be needed and integrated at all levels of care

WHO SEARO Nursila Dewi

Palliative Care, Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda slogan ‘Leave no-one behind’ means that governments trying to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 must develop palliative care policies to cover the 40 million persons (a total that includes at least 20 million carers) who require palliative care support globally. Currently, fewer than 10% of patient who need palliative care in low and middle-income countries receive it.

Palliative care as human right

Access to pain and symptom control is part of the fundamental right to health.


Palliative care: the challenges for health system

Health systems need to provide access to palliative care at primary and secondary levels and thus need to ensure that professionals receive appropriate training in this area.

WHO EURO Gilles Reboux

Integration of palliative care programs into the health systems

Palliative care programmes need to be adapted to the specific health system and cultural context in each country. Different models can be envisaged depending on the specific settings.

WHO PAHO Carlos Gaggero

Key WHO resources

Why Palliative Care is an essential function of primary health care


Course on the development of policy briefs in palliative care and long-term care in October 2018

Alleviating the access abyss in palliative care and pain relief—an imperative of universal health coverage

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