Palliative care: the public health strategy

J Public Health Policy. 2007;28(1):42-55. doi: 10.1057/palgrave.jphp.3200115.


There is the knowledge to improve the Quality of Life, Dying and Death of cancer sufferers, other patients dying of chronic diseases, HIV/AIDS and the children and elderly terminally ill and their caring family members, an estimated 100 million people globally, if palliative care and pain relief would be available. Tragically however, palliative care is only reaching a lucky few. Two third of those in need of palliative care are in the low or middle income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has pioneered a public health strategy to integrate palliative care into existing healthcare systems as this offers the best approach for translating new knowledge and skills into evidence-based, cost-effective interventions that can reach everyone in the population, when incorporated by governments into all levels of their healthcare systems and owned by the community. The WHO Strategy starts by establishing four foundation measures, key components that are: 1) appropriate policies, 2) adequate drug availability, 3) education of the public, policymakers and the public and 4) implementation. The WHO Model has shown that it provides an effective strategy for countries to establish palliative care. The Open Society Institute has actively supported countries to establish National Palliative Care Programs according to these principles. Combined with a community strategy that involves the society through collective and social action"Palliative Care for All" indeed could become a reality.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / economics
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Education
  • Health Policy / trends*
  • Humans
  • Pain Management*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Public Health / methods*
  • World Health Organization*


  • Analgesics, Opioid