Palliative care relieves the pain, symptoms and psychosocial and spiritual problems experienced by patients and families facing life-limiting illness. Every year, more that 20 million patients need end of life care, with an additional 20 million who could benefit from early intervention palliative care. 80% of those in need live in low- or middle-income countries. Palliative care is an essential part of the healthcare system, but access is inadequate worldwide. The World Health Organisation and Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (2014) estimate that only 1 in 10 people who need palliative care are receiving it. In 2014, the World Health Assembly passed its first resolution on palliative care, acknowledging the evidence that palliative care improves outcomes and saves costs.
King’s Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation brings together academics, healthcare professionals, community organisations, patients and carers, and is the hub for a network of international research. It offers high quality palliative care, and provides education, patient information and support.
In the field of HIV rehabilitation, clinical and academic collaboration is developing and testing new ways to optimise quality of life. The Institute's world leading global health research programme combines expertise in outcome measurement, cancer and non-cancer care (particularly HIV and heart failure), and the development and rigorous evaluation of new interventions, all with a focus on spiritual care, culture and ethnicity. In Kenya, the TOPcare trial demonstrated the effectiveness of nurse-led palliative care in improving quality of life in people living with HIV. The Palliative Outcome Scale (POS) has enabled clinicians and researchers to access free outcome measures, support tools and learning resources, with almost 6,000 registered users in over 100 countries. The Institute's partnerships span sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Australasia. The aim is to address local need for appropriate and effective palliative care, building local capacity and developing the highest quality evidence.
Recent interdisciplinary major programmes led by KGHI researchers include an important component of work on palliative care in sub-Saharan and North Africa, and the Middle East. In the ASSET NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Health System Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa, we shall be seeking to improve the processes and outcomes of long-term potentially life-limiting conditions (COPD and TB) through the introduction of a palliative care approach, including person-centred care. In RH4C-MENA we shall be working on capacity-building for cancer and palliative care research in four conflict-affected countries in the Middle East and North Africa.