Message from WHO Country Representative a.i for Sri Lanka

Dr Arvind Mathur
WHO country Representative a.i. for Sri Lanka a.i

Message from WHO Country Representative a.i for Sri Lanka

It gives me great pleasure in sending a congratulatory message on the occasion of the launch of the Palliative Care Association of Sri Lanka. There is increased awareness of the need of the Palliative Care for chronic disease however there is huge unmet need as only 1 in 10 people who need palliative care is currently receiving it. Palliative Care is more than just the pain relief and meets the needs of all patients requiring relief from symptoms but also psychosocial and emotional support and their families. This is particularly true when patients are in advanced stages and have a very low chance being cured, or when they are facing the terminal phase of the disease. About third of those who need palliative care suffer from cancer and others have progressive illness affecting their heart, lung, brain, kidney or chronic life threatening diseases. Because of the emotional, spiritual, social and economic consequences of cancer and its management, palliative care services addressing the needs of patients and families, from the time of diagnosis, can improve quality of life and the ability to cope effectively.

Although most palliative care is provided in high income countries, almost 80% of the global need for palliative care is in low-and middle income countries. Sri Lanka has always been in the forefront of NCD prevention and control and it is encouraging to note its commitment to Palliative Care. The strong collaborations between the ministries of health, Professional Colleges and other ministries will ensure that a strong program will emerge from Sri Lanka. Effective approaches to palliative care are available to improve the quality of life for patients who need these services. The WHO ladder for cancer pain is a relatively inexpensive yet effective method for relieving cancer pain in about 90% of patients. The launch of Palliative Care Association for Sri Lanka is a step in the direction to expand palliative care to bring relief to suffering and benefit to those with least resources. I am sure this would further initiate policy, strategies and actions at all levels for easy access to palliative care including medicines especially pain relievers and build capacities to deliver the services.

WHO support is available for the endeavor and wish the Association very best as its starts it journey.