The GCI team recently published an extensive review article on “End-of-Life Care in Latin America,” led by Dr. Enrique Soto-Perez-de-Celis and published in the Journal of Global Oncology. The paper outlined the current state of end-of-life care practices and legislation in Latin America and noted deficiencies of health systems and areas for improvement throughout the region.
End-of-life care is an important aspect of cancer control and essential to providing quality patient care. The end of life is a difficult and painful time for patients and families, as they struggle with the terminal stages of disease, medical bills, and preparing for the future. Additionally, with the great cancer burden seen in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and the large expenditures associated with end-of-life care, health systems in Latin America are struggling to address the needs of patients and the hospitals that serve them. Throughout the region, we see large inequalities in access to palliative care services and pain medication, as well as insufficient clinical infrastructure, patient and family education, and legislation to protect patients’ rights. Thus, it is important to increase training and capacity in Latin America in order to respond to the growing and dire need for high-quality end-of-life care for cancer patients.
Here are some key facts from the paper:
These shortcomings negatively affect patient care and health system performance. Integrated and well-functioning palliative care services will improve patient quality of life, reduce the economic burden of costly advanced disease care, and allow the shifting of resources to more primary and secondary cancer prevention.
Dr. Soto-Perez-de-Celis and his team conclude by suggesting that Latin American countries:
These are not small tasks, and their fulfillment will take time and effort, but they will undoubtedly allow countries throughout Latin America to provide comprehensive, high-quality, and compassionate end-of-life care for cancer patients.
Levels of palliative care development in Latin America