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EU health ministers to promote palliative care, pain therapy

Xinhua, September 24, 2014 Adjust font size:

The European Union (EU) health ministers pledged to further promote the use of palliative care and pain therapy in the EU member states during a two-day informal meeting that concluded here on Tuesday.

The ministers reached a common position on the need to create a "network" ensuring training of professionals and exchange of information, Italian Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the current EU rotating president Italy, told a press conference.

The use of palliative care is particularly important for the weakest population groups, from the elderly to children, she added.

Italy was the first country in Europe to adopt a law in 2010 which defines pain therapy as a set of diagnostic and therapeutic initiatives intended to control and suppress moderate to severe chronic pain, she noted.

"The necessity to develop domestic assistance networks to assure patients the possibility to remain at home until the end of their life is undeniable," Lorenzin pointed out.

Presently, there are 221 hospices providing a total of 2,307 beds in Italy, she said, highlighting the importance of this philosophy of care centered on the needs, including the emotional ones, of chronically or terminally ill patients.

Non-profit associations and volunteer organizations have also played a key role in promoting palliative care in the country, she said.

In a moment that is seeing continuous development of new drugs, Lorenzin also added, it is crucial to accelerate the immediate access to innovative therapies, while paying attention to patients safety.

The drugs prices surge, as in the case of the drugs for hepatitis C, put economic sustainability under strain in all EU member states, thus requires increased cooperation and shared strategies, she concluded. Enditem

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