This post was written by Francisco J. Quintana (Legal Intern from Universidad Torcuato Di Tella) and Paula Avila Guillen (Institute Associate) of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. Any questions or comments about this post can be directed to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juan E. Méndez, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Punishment recently presented his 2013 report.  In this report, he addresses a wide variety of topics, including a section analyzing different forms of abuse in health-care settings. The report has been broadly covered by the press. Yet, most of the press reports seem to concentrate on just one specific point-Méndez’s arguments regarding restrictions on access and absolute bans on abortion as violating the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. In this post, we would like to concentrate on another important point analyzed in the report-palliative care.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), palliative care is understood as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.” In his report, Méndez highlights that “5.5 billion people live in countries with low or no access to controlled medicines and have no or insufficient access to treatment for moderate to severe pain.” He adds that “83 per cent of the world population has either no or inadequate access to treatment for moderate to severe pain.” READ MORE »