New figures released today by the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA) based on the latest data from the World Health Organisation shows that almost 18 million people globally died in pain in 2012.
The WPCA states this was largely due to barriers which affect the access and availability of strong pain relief drugs such as morphine for people with life-limiting illness, particularly in many developing countries.
The data also ranks countries in terms of access to palliative care based on need with the UK featuring as one of the top countries, alongside others such as the US, Norway and Germany.
Commenting on the new figures, Jonathan Ellis, Director of Policy and Advocacy at national hospice charity Help the Hospices, said:
"It is deeply worrying that in the twenty-first century so many terminally ill people across the world still do not have access to the pain relief they desperately need. Access to pain relief should be a basic right wherever people may live in the world
"These figures highlight the importance of the recent World Health Assembly resolution which requires governments to integrate palliative care more into their national healthcare systems.
"While the UK appears to rank highly in these figures for access to pain relief, we know that there is a considerable need for palliative care in this country that currently goes unmet. This could increase further given higher demand for hospice care in future due to the UK’s increasingly ageing population with more people living for longer with complex care needs."
Notes to Editor
- Help the Hospices is the UK’s leading charity for hospice care which supports and champions the work of 219 hospices across the UK.
- Hospices provide vital care for people with terminal illnesses and life-limiting conditions and they also support their families.
- Help the Hospices manages of international projects which develop new models of hospice and palliative care and help this around the world.
- An estimated 97,000 people a year in England do not get access to the palliative care they need at the end of life according to the Palliative Care Funding Review 2011.
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