Focus: Campaign of the week - Hospice hosts a global open day

Indira Das-Gupta,

Help the Hospices is leading a steering group of 14 international charities taking part in the first World Hospice and Palliative Care Day.

The day, which takes place on 8 October, has the backing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is the patron of the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa. There will be 500 different events, including a 'music marathon', which consists of 444 concerts in 62 countries. Help the Hospices has produced most of the publicity material, which has been adapted by local hospice and palliative care organisations to meet their individual needs.

The main aim of this ambitious campaign is to raise awareness of the work done by hospices and the need for more government funding. In India, less than 1 per cent of the population has access to palliative care - but even in the UK, only 5 per cent of children have access to it, and only a third of palliative care is funded by government.

Since 15 September, the charity has been running an online petition calling for increased availability of hospice care. It will be presented to governments next week.

Nick Pahl, development director at Help the Hospices, said: "Availability and access to hospice and palliative care is an incredibly important issue internationally, but has never before been covered as a global issue. In the UK there is a degree of 'day' exhaustion, but our colleagues in countries such as Zambia are really getting a tremendous boost from this."

In anticipation of the day, a report produced by Help the Hospices, Suffering at the End of Life - The State of the World, is being launched at the British Academy today at an event attended by Princess Anne. Described by the charity as "half academic study, half coffee-table book", the report will be sent to hospice organisations around the world, as well as to opinion-formers.

An integral part of the day itself will be Voices for Hospices, in which choral concerts will take place in 62 countries at 7.30pm local time. Help the Hospices is keen to dispel the myth that hospices are "depressing and gloomy" and, in keeping with this idea, it has launched an online game ( in which the object is to increase the volume of voices calling for better hospice care. A spokeswoman for Help the Hospices said: "A lot of people are surprised by how much laughter can be heard in hospices. We want to challenge people's preconceptions."

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