The enormous burden of life-threatening illnesses, including cancer, human immunodeficiency virus infection, and others, such as sickle cell disease, associated with physical and psychosocial suffering explains the illustrious need for palliative care in developing countries. Despite the demonstrated need, current provision of palliative care in Africa is at best limited, and at worst non-existent. Access to essential pain medicines, particularly oral morphine, for control of pain is extremely limited and far below the global mean. There is a general lack of government policies that recognize palliative care as an essential component of health care and there is inadequate training for both health care professionals and the general public about palliative care. A public health strategy, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), offers the best approach for translating knowledge and skills into evidence-based, cost-effective interventions that can reach everyone in need of palliative care in developing countries.
Keywords: HIV; cancer; developing countries; palliative care; policy.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.