Aimed at raising awareness on the significance of hospice and palliative care, and of the available hospice and palliative care services that institutions provide for terminally-ill patients, the Department of Health (DOH) today led the observance of  the National Hospice and Palliative Care  Month, (NHPCM) featuring the theme “Leave no one behind. Equity in access to palliative care.”

With the world’s ageing population, coupled with the rising incidence of communicable and non-communicable diseases, result in the annual rise in demand for end-of-life and palliative care services. Thus, the DOH issued Administrative Order No. 2015-0052: National Policy on Palliative and Hospice Care in the Philippines to integrate palliative care into our healthcare system.

In light of the implementation of Republic Act No. 11215, or the National Integrated Cancer Control Act and of Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, the right of the people to access palliative care as part of quality and holistic healthcare together with promotive, preventive, curative, and rehabilitative care must be guaranteed at all levels of healthcare settings. Palliative care needs to align with the principles of Universal Health Care, and be provided accordingly. All people, irrespective of income, disease type or age, should have access to a nationally-determined set of basic health services, including palliative care.

“The enactment of the Universal Health Care Act, the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, the National Policy on Palliative and Hospice Care in the Philippines, and the Astana Declaration, all call for the integration of palliative and hospice care into our health care systems to be set in motion to ensure holistic health care service across all levels of care. As health care providers, let us all work together to preserve human dignity and improve the quality patient’s last days of life.”, said Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.

The National Palliative and Hospice Care Program (NPHCP) has been established to improve the quality of life of patients and their families who are facing challenges associated with life-threatening illness, whether physical, psychological, social or spiritual.

In 2020, the DOH-Cancer Control Division in collaboration with the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital and the Technical Working Groups led the development of the Manual of Operations, Procedures and Standards (MOPS) for Palliative and Hospice Care, including the basic and intermediate training module to capacitate our health care providers in the provision of high-quality health care services for Palliative and Hospice.

As part of the national observance of the NHPCM, the DOH, in collaboration with various agencies and specialty societies will be conducting week-long activities that will serve to inform, educate, and enlighten people on the significance of hospice and palliative care to terminally-ill patients.