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World's first Palliative Care day

7th October 2005

The first World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is being held on October 8th and has been described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as "an important global event".

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is the first day of unified global action calling for increased awareness and the expansion of services. Millions of people worldwide are living with terminal illnesses and are in need of hospice and palliative care services to help relieve their own pain and distress and that of their family and friends.

The lobby day aims to "increase the availability of hospice and palliative care worldwide", "raise awareness and understanding of the medical, social, practical and spiritual needs of the terminally ill and their families", and "raise funds to support and develop hospice and palliative care services around the world".

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day has been sponsored by hospice and palliative care associations and providers across the world and has received high-profile support from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, honorary chairperson for The Global AIDS Alliance.

J Donald Schumacher, president of the Virginia-based US National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization said: "This is an issue that affects every person in every nation throughout the world.

"We all want compassionate, high-quality care-for ourselves and our loved ones - should we be faced with a life-limiting illness. Hospice and palliative care provide the range of services that let people live as comfortably as possible with dignity and support, even to the end of life."

An estimated 100 million people could benefit from basic palliative care every year, consisting of 33 million people dying (60 per cent of the total number dying in the world each year) and their 66 million family members, companions or caregivers.