Governments Must Do More To Invest in End-of-Life Care

(23.05.2012) Governments and research institutions must be encouraged by national medical associations to invest additional resources in developing treatments to improve end-of-life care, according to Dr. Cecil Wilson, President elect of the World Medical Association.
Speaking in Geneva today (Wednesday), he said that millions of people around the world with cancer and other diseases suffered moderate to severe pain without access to adequate treatment.
‘A consequence of inadequate pain treatment is a negative economic impact and human suffering, ‘ he said. ‘In most cases pain can be stopped or relieved with inexpensive and relatively simple treatment interventions.’
Dr. Wilson, who was speaking at a side meeting of the World Health Assembly, added ‘All people should have the right to access to pain treatment without discrimination….Governments must ensure the adequate availability of controlled medicines, and governmental drug control agencies’.
He said that the appropriate use of morphine, new analgesics and other measures could relieve pain and other distressing symptoms in the majority of cases. Health authorities must make necessary medications accessible and available to physicians and their patients.
Yet in many parts of the world palliative and life-sustaining measures required technologies and/or financial resources that were simply not available. He also said that as far as pain and symptom management were concerned it was essential to identify patients approaching the end-of-life as early as possible
The increasing number of people who required palliative care and the increased availability of effective treatment options meant that end-of-life care issues should be an important part of undergraduate and postgraduate medical training. The duty of physicians was to heal where possible, to relieve suffering and to protect the best interests of their patients.