The data come from the LCGPAR Report “Alleviating the access abyss in palliative care and pain relief—an imperative of universal health coverage” and an extensive data appendix. The LCGAPR report aims to (1) quantify the heavy burden of serious health-related suffering associated with a need for palliative care and pain relief; (2) identify and cost an essential package of palliative care and pain relief health services that would alleviate this burden; (3) measure the unmet need of an indispensable component of the package—off patent, oral, and injectable morphine; and (4) outline national and global health-systems strategies to expand access to palliative care and pain relief as an integral component of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The release of this data platform satisfies a commitment adopted by advocates and researchers during the launch of the Lancet Report at the University of Miami in April 2018 as a task of the LCGAPR Implementation Working Group. At the time, global, regional and national leaders, as well as researchers and advocates made the commitment to disseminate the LCGAPR results as part of a broader strategy leading to the integration of the essential package of palliative care health services.
SHS is associated with illness or injury of any kind that could be alleviated by palliative care or pain treatment. The LCGAPR developed a framework for measuring the global burden of SHS across 20 life-limiting and life-threatening conditions most associated with a need for palliative care, and 15 associated physical and psychological symptoms.
The massive scale of human suffering uncovered by the LCGAPR, demonstrated the enormous need for palliative care and pain relief in our world. In 2015, more than 61 million people experienced SHS that could be ameliorated by palliative care and pain relief. These individuals suffered at least 6 billion physical and psychological symptom days. Over 80% of this SHS burden occurred in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where access to palliative care, even oral immediate-release morphine for pain relief, is extremely limited. Every year almost 2.5 million children die with SHS and more than 98% of these children are from LMICs. A large proportion of the current SHS burden is associated with non-communicable chronic diseases such as cancer, dementia, cerebrovascular disease, and lung disease, a burden that will only increase as populations age. Globally, approximately 15 million cancer patients experience SHS every year.
“The SHS data platform is a resource that can empower and significantly improve the capacity of civil society organizations and policy makers to implement more effective and secure palliative care and pain relief policies and programs to alleviate the suffering of millions of patients and their caregivers around the world.”, said Felicia Knaul, Chair of the LCGAPR and Director of UMIA. See video from Dr. Knaul on the publication of this database.