A Public Health Approach to Integrate Palliative Care into a Country’s Health-Care System: Guidance as Provided by the WHO

  • Arno Maetens
  • Joachim CohenEmail author
  • Richard Harding
Reference work entry


Many people across the globe are in need of quality palliative care (PC), of which a majority live in low- and middle-income countries. However, many still see their needs unmet. It is estimated that only 14% of people in need of PC actually receive it. To improve access to PC as a core component of health systems, the WHO developed evidence-based tools on how to integrate PC into national health systems, across disease groups and levels of care. The current chapter provides an overview of this WHO Public Health Approach to Palliative Care, and discusses the seven components that were set out as a practical guidance for policy makers and program managers at national or subnational level to plan and implement PC services integrated into existing healthcare services. The components discussed are: (1) the development of appropriate PC policies, (2) the scaling up and integration of PC into the healthcare system, (3) the improvement of pain relief medicines access, (4) the strengthening of human resources for PC, (5) the establishment of palliative care services, (6) the setting of standards for evaluating PC services, and (7) the costing of PC services.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.End-of-Life Care Research GroupVrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Ghent UniversityBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Cicely Saunders Institute, Department of Palliative Care Policy and Rehabilitation, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative care, King’s College LondonLondonUK

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