The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines palliative care as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
The average need for palliative care for the South African population is 698.5 persons per 100,000; close to one out of every 143 people every year.
In 2014, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution calling on all governments to integrate palliative care into their healthcare systems. South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill is our response to the call for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and includes palliative care as an essential element of healthcare.
In 2016, Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, appointed a Steering Committee for Palliative Care to guide the Department of Health (DoH) to implement the recommendations of the World Health Assembly resolution 67.19. A national Policy Framework and Strategy for Palliative Care was approved in April 2017 by the National Health Council.
Research has shown that palliative care alongside treatment improves patients’ quality of life, reduces depression and marginally prolongs life. It is vital that people directly affected by serious and life limiting conditions are empowered to speak up and demand the best care possible for themselves and their loved ones.
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