Author(s): Macpherson CC, Chiochankitmun N, AkpinarElci M
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Abstract This article presents empirical data on the limited availability of hospice and palliative care to the 6 million people of the English-speaking Caribbean. Ten of the 13 nations therein responded to a survey and reported employing a total of 6 hospice or palliative specialists, and having a total of 15 related facilities. The evolving socioeconomic and cultural context in these nations bears on the availability of such care, and on the willingness to report, assess, and prioritize pain, and to prescribe opiates for pain. Socioeconomics and culture also impinge on what medications and modalities of care are routinely available for pain or other conditions and can challenge professionalism, empathy, and responsiveness to patients' unrelieved pain. Although all respondents report having a protocol for pain management, hospice, or end-of-life care, their annual medical use of opiates is well below the global mean. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which monitors such use, encourages Caribbean and other low- and middle-income countries to increase their use of opiates to treat pain, and to overcome both unfounded fears of addiction and overly restrictive interpretation of related laws and regulations. Contextual considerations like those described here are important to the success of policies and capacity-building programs aiming to increase access to hospice and palliation, and perhaps to improving other aspects of health and healthcare. Exploring and responding to the realities of socioeconomic and cultural conditions will enhance public and policy dialogue and improve the design of interventions to increase access to palliative and hospice care. Improving access to palliative and hospice care in the Caribbean demonstrates beneficence and helps to fulfill human rights conventions.
This article was published in Camb Q Healthc Ethics
and referenced in International Journal of School and Cognitive Psychology