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palliative care pagePalliative care is:
  • fundamental to improve well-being, comfort and human dignity for individuals;
  • an adequate, personally and culturally sensitive information for patients on their health status;
  • when the patient is responsible for the decisions about the treatment to be received;
  • the ethical duty of health care professionals in alleviating pain and suffering, whether physical, psychosocial or spiritual;
  • an interdisciplinary approach to address the needs of patients and their families;
  • an ethical responsibility of the health systems.  
Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life of patients, adults or children, and their families when facing life-threatening illness. It means prevention and relief of suffering through early identification and correct assessment, treatment of pain and other problems as physical, psychosocial or spiritual.

Nowadays, more than 40 million people need palliative care every year due to the ageing and the rise of noncommunicable and other chronic diseases worldwide. Therefore, there is an increased need for palliative care but still facing a lot of challenges as awareness, regulations, adequate trainning for health care providers, integration into the health systems and changes in the culture of practice. 

There is an urgent need to include palliation across the continuum of care, especially at the primary care level, recognizing that inadequate integration of palliative care into health and social care systems is a major contributing factor to the lack of equitable access to such care.

Virtual course on Fundamentals of Palliative Care - 2020

This course provides a basic introduction to the fundamentals of palliative care practice for clinical and non-clinical healthcare leaders and staff. By completing this virtual course, participants will have acquired knowledge about the modern definition of palliative care, and the basic principles that guide the evaluation and management of multidimensional suffering in patients with serious illness. It is available for free at the PAHO Virtual Campus of Public Health

Access the course

Infographic on Palliative Care (WHO) - Improving access to palliative care 

Tinfo graph ENhis provides simple information about palliative care, who needs it and when, gaps and challenges, and what countries can do to improve access to palliative care.

The document is avalialble in several languages (EN and SP) in the WHO website.

NEW version in Portuguese is avalialable  pdf here



Technical materials


Palliative Care - Guide for clinical management

guia de cuidados paliativosIt is a  guide for clinical management provides information to health professionals on how to deliver palliative care services, including communicating to the patient and their families, pain assessment, and use of opioids.

pdf - Download the guide (Spanish)



Cancer Control: Knowledge into Action


Itis a series of cancer control program planning modules, that provides practical advice to program managers and policy-makers on how to advocate, plan and implement effective cancer control programs. The six modules cover the topics of: cancer planning cancer policy and advocacy, prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, and palliative care.

- Dowload the guides


Planning and implementing palliative care services: a guide for programme managers

WHo guideThis is a practical manual on how to plan and implement palliative care services at national or subnational level. It has been designed primarily for health programme managers, whether they are responsible for noncommunicable diseases or other technical areas where palliative care is important. It aims to describe options and starting points for building and strengthening palliative care services. A step-wise approach is outlined emphasizing feasibility for low- and middle-income settings. 

 - Read more and download the guide



Related links:

- For information about a global position and more material on Palliative Care, access the WHO Webpage.

- World Health Assembly Resolution on Palliative Care: Strengthening of palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course

WHO Collaborating Centre for Pain Policy and Palliative Care 


Documents related to Palliative Care:

pdf - Honduras meeting report, 2011