Integrating palliative care and symptom relief into responses to humanitarian crises

Eric L Krakauer, Bethany‐Rose Daubman and Tammam Aloudat
Med J Aust 2019; 211 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50295
Published online: 2 September 2019

The medical and moral imperative that palliative care be integrated into standard responses to humanitarian crises can be fulfilled by basic training and an essential set of medicines, equipment, social support and protocols

Humanitarian crises often cause both extensive loss of life and widespread suffering. Yet humanitarian crisis response virtually never fully integrates palliative care, the discipline devoted to preventing and relieving suffering. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognised the necessity of integrating palliative care and symptom relief into responses to humanitarian crises of all types and published a guide to this integration.1 In this article, we summarise the WHO recommendations, explain why inclusion of palliative care as an essential part of humanitarian response is medically and morally imperative, and describe how to ensure that palliative care is accessible for those affected by humanitarian crises.

  • 1 Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
  • 2 Médecins Sans Frontières, Geneva, Switzerland

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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