October 7, 2006, is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. This day is dedicated to raising the visibility of palliative care within the global community and to providing opportunities to support hospice and palliative care in the form of a unified day of action.
According to official organizers, the event’s theme is “Access to care for all—highlighting the fact that everyone has a right to high-quality end-of-life care, but that more needs to be done to enable everyone to access it.” In creating World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2006, the event’s organizers aim to raise awareness and understanding of the needs of those living with a terminal diagnosis, as well as the needs of their families. Other goals include calling attention to the need for increasing hospice and palliative care availability throughout the world and raising funds to be used in supporting these services.
Like the first World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, held in 2005, this event will be carried out in conjunction with Voices for Hospices, a global music effort that supports concerts held around the world to raise awareness of this important topic. The Voices for Hospices group is one of many supporters of this cause.
—World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2006 Web site, Key Messages, page 1.
More than 1,000 events took place on World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2005, and 74 countries supported the activities. Included in the 2005 event were a cycle rally in Nepal; art exhibitions in Australia, Hong Kong, and Austria; and palliative care conferences in Lithuania and Belarus. In addition, thousands of people from around the world signed a global petition calling for better quality care for people afflicted by terminal illness.
Hospitalists are asked frequently to lead and participate in initiatives meant to improve the identification and treatment of patients and families in need of palliative care. It is common knowledge that traditional medical training tends to focus on the efforts that must be made to cure and prevent illness. There are times when the first priority must be to look for a cure at all costs; however, it must be acknowledged that there are also times when the treatment of a patient’s symptoms should be looked upon as just as important. Conventional medical training frequently does not provide the tools needed to offer the best care for patients and their families when the latter goal becomes the higher priority.
This is why support of initiatives like World Hospice and Palliative Care Day can offer such value to the global community. Events like this one promote awareness of an important topic. For information and ideas on how to get involved in this or in future events, please consult www.worldday.org. Access the Web site’s “Get Involved” page for ideas on how to offer support. Suggested activities include campaigning, creating links and partnerships, and producing materials that will raise awareness.
On the “PR & Press” page of the Web site, in the “Key Messages 2006” section, the following question was posed: “What kinds of issues in general terms does World Hospice and Palliative Care Day hope to raise awareness of year on year?” One of the well-stated answers: “First and foremost we hope the Day helps to increase understanding of hospice and palliative care and how it supports those facing the end of life … . It’s not about ‘helping someone die’ but instead about helping someone to live as comfortably as possible with their illness. It’s about seeing them as [a] living person, not a dying patient. It’s supporting those closest to them and adding life to days, whether or not days can be added to lives.”