World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, a unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world will be celebrated on Saturday 14th October. The theme is Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care – Don't leave those suffering behind. World Child Cancer is working to ensure that palliative treatment is available to children with cancer and their families at a relatively low cost in the countries in which we work.

Of the 300,000 children that develop cancer each year, a vast majority die without effective pain relief. Dr Megan Doherty, a consultant in paediatric palliative care, is an advocate for the importance of accessibility to palliative care for all children.

“It’s unfair. It shouldn’t be this way. Families and children are left alone without any support as they cope with cancer.”

Paediatric palliative care focuses on improving the quality of life for children and their families. This involves treating symptoms such as pain but also ensures the families have the support they need to make decisions about their child’s illness.

Many children with cancer in low and middle income countries are diagnosed very late when curative treatment is not possible, making palliative care extremely important. However, there is a lack of understanding among healthcare professionals of the importance of palliative care and poor availability of morphine for pain relief. Although a safe form of pain management, many doctors and families still believe that morphine is highly addictive and will not use it to relieve pain.

Dr Megan Doherty, who leads the World Child Cancer palliative care programme activities in Bangladesh commented;

“We know that we will have the biggest impact with the support of World Child Cancer if we can train existing healthcare professionals.”

World Child Cancer develops twinning partnerships between healthcare professionals in the high income world and those in the low and middle income world to increase awareness of childhood cancer. Through these partnerships we can train healthcare professionals in caring for children with cancer, including delivering palliative care.

You can take part in World Hospice and Palliative Care Day this Saturday by helping World Child Cancer raise awareness and funds so that every child receives the best possible treatment and care. Donating just £20 could help pay for a month-worth of pain relief for a child with cancer. For more information on palliative care please visit the Children’s Palliative Care Initiative in Bangladesh.