White paper for Global Palliative Care Advocacy from the Vatican

2018 September 28

On the 27th of September 2018, the Pontifical Academy for Life of the Vatican released a white paper calling upon all in global health care to treat suffering, not just diseases, by including palliative care as a part of health care. In view of the fact that Catholic institutions account for 27% of all health care in the world, this is of particular importance.


(Image courtesy: EAPC. Read more: https://eapcnet.wordpress.com/2018/09/27/the-catholic-church-advocates-for-palliative-care/)

Pope Francis had always been a strong advocate of palliative care. In 2015 he had said, “I encourage professionals and students to specialize in this type of assistance which is no less valuable for the fact that it is not life-saving. [Palliative care] accomplishes something equally important: it values the person[1]”.

The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) is an academic institution of the Holy See (Vatican) dedicated to the promotion of human life, including medical ethics. In 2017, the PAV launched an international project called “PAL-LIFE: An International Advisory Working Group on diffusion and development of palliative care in the world” to advise on how the Catholic Church could assist in continued PC development at the global level. 13 experts from various parts of the globe participated in the working group, including one from India, Dr M.R.Rajagopal. representing Pallium India.

The white paper calls upon hospitals and health care institutions to integrate palliative care service and education, including access to essential medicines, to all health care. The recommendations of the white paper has been published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine and can be seen at https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jpm.2018.0248

One potential impact of this white paper is the removal of a huge chunk of pain and suffering in the country particularly because the Catholic church runs more than 300 hospitals and more than 1500 health centres across India. Pallium India has a memorandum of understanding with Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) to improve access to palliative care and we are in the process of training a cohort of professionals for this purpose.

Pallium India thanks the Pontifical Academy for Life and CHAI for this opportunity to work with them on this important initiative.

[1] Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants In the plenary of the Pontifical Academy For Life (5 March 2015). Available from: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/march/documents/papa-francesco_20150305_pontificia-accademia-vita.html

One Response
  1. Suresh Sreedharan permalink
    October 3, 2018

    Good effort! This new outlook definitely will support needy patients, if they are realised and motivated.

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