Serious health-related suffering (SHS) afflicts over 61 million people worldwide, with over 80% of symptom burden occurring in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Palliative care – an interdisciplinary intervention aiming to relieve physical, psychological, social, and spiritual suffering for patients and caregivers arising from serious illness – can reduce SHS globally. While access to palliative care has been deemed an essential human right by the World Health Organization and other international entities, there are major gaps in palliative care access and delivery that disproportionately afflict those in LMICs. These gaps are exacerbated by a lack of trained workforce, lack of access to pain medications, and inadequate integration into health systems and healthcare delivery.
In this webinar, we will first define palliative care and its role in promoting the health and well-being of individuals and populations worldwide. Second, we will discuss major gaps and opportunities to improve palliative care access and delivery, particularly in LMICs. Third, drawing on the unique experiences of our expert speakers in Rwanda, Liberia, and Botswana, we will compare examples of interventions aiming to train palliative care workforce and build capacity at the national and regional level. Specifically, we will discuss educational initiatives, guidelines, and national policies implemented in partnership with local ministries of health and regional/international advocacy groups, with specific emphasis on interdisciplinary efforts to bolster nursing workforce and improve access to essential pain medicines. We will end with a question and answer session.