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The power is in the partnerships: working together for palliative care in cities

October 5, 2020

The power is in the partnerships: working together for palliative care in cities

How C/Can’s partnership approach is improving access to palliative care

Every cancer patient should be able to live without unnecessary pain or distress, regardless of whether the treatment has curative or palliative intent. Yet, many cities in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) report that a large proportion of patients, including children, are still denied access to quality palliative care.

Which is why C/Can is committed to improving access to palliative care by supporting cities, as the organisation’s Senior Manager, Technical Assistance and Partnerships, Diogo Neves explains. “C/Can provides a platform for palliative care to be integrated into the standard practice of cancer care and create networks of professionals in the cities to drive the agenda locally, where it matters the most.”

A significant number of cancer patients in LMICs are typically not diagnosed until the later stages of the disease, which then has an impact on access curative treatment. Nevertheless, they are likely to be in a condition to undergo palliative and comprehensive chronic care with high standards of comfort at relatively low cost. This highlights the need to see palliative care as a key component of cancer care and to ensure it is delivered as part of an integrated approach.

For the last four years C/Can has been working with cities to identify gaps in cancer care and to develop innovative, sustainable solutions, ensuring that no one is left behind in accessing the care they need.

C/Can cities are in a unique position to mobilize multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to develop integrated health services, with participation of multisectoral institutions at the city level. The cities that have completed the assessment of their capacities and needs for cancer care have systematically identified the need of integrating specialized palliative care into cancer care and the need for building capacity and better articulation between specialized knowledge and primary health care professionals to strengthen intra-city networks of professionals to provide patients and their families the best standard of care and the highest level of comfort achievable.

Furthermore, C/Can partnerships are showing value by crowding in expertise and bringing the right stakeholders together, as Dr Patricia Bonilla of the Latin American Palliative Care Association explains:

“It is vitally important to support cities through partnerships as they create local networks of palliative care specialists and primary care professionals through education.”

To support cities in meeting their goals, C/Can has formalized collaboration with a group of renowned partners in the field of palliative care, including the WHO Collaborating Centre for Community Participation in Palliative Care and Long Term Care (WHOCC) at the Institute of Palliative Medicine, the African Palliative Care Association and the Latin American Palliative Care Association.

Commenting on the accord, Dr Emmanuel Luyirika of the African Palliative Care Association noted:

“This partnership will give a huge boost to supporting African cities as they advance their palliative care agenda,”

while Dr Suresh Kumar of the Institute of Palliative Medicine highlighted the role of his institution in supporting city-level work:

“The WHOCC is playing a vital role in building capacity in palliative medicine and mobilizing expertise to integrate palliative care into oncologic treatment.”

The goal of these partnerships is to mobilize expertise and build on each other’s capabilities and resources to ensure the cities have access to the best knowledge and technical advice in implementing their specific projects related to increasing integration of palliative care services for the benefit of cancer patients and their families.