In May 2014, the World Health Assembly, of the World Health Organization (WHO), unanimously adopted a palliative care (PC) resolution, which outlines clear recommendations to the United Nations member states, such as including PC in national health policies and in the undergraduate curricula for health care professionals, and highlights the critical need for countries to ensure that there is an adequate supply of essential PC medicines, especially those needed to alleviate pain. This resolution also carries great challenges: Every year over 20 million patients (of which 6% are children) need PC at the end of life (EOL). However, in 2011, approximately three million patients received PC, and only one in ten people in need is currently receiving it. We describe this public health situation and systems failure, the history and evolution of PC, and the components of the WHO public health model. We propose a role for public health for PC integration in community settings to advance PC and relieve suffering in the world.


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