Challenges in Palliative Care in Latin America: A Narrative Review

In “graying” populations with extended lifespans and survivable forms of cancer, palliative services become increasingly important but may be difficult to introduce into public discourse, public policy, and healthcare systems. Latin America (LATAM) faces many challenges as it introduces and, in some cases, develops its palliative care programs; though the challenges faced here are in many ways universal ones, LATAM approaches may be unique and based on the region’s specific culture, politics, and economics. This narrative review based on a literature search identified 10 main themes that can be interpreted as challenges and opportunities for palliative care in LATAM. These challenges are integrating palliation into healthcare systems; public policy and funding; therapeutic obstinacy; changing demographics; access to services; analgesia; the role of religion, spirituality, and folk medicine; social determinants of palliative care; low health literacy; and limited clinician training. Some of the LATAM nations have palliative programs and palliative care training in place while others are developing these systems. Integrating this care into existing healthcare and reimbursement systems has been a challenge. A notable challenge in LATAM is also access to care since palliative programs tend to cluster in metropolitan areas and create hardships for rural citizens to access them. The better-defined role of familial caregivers and telehealth may be important factors in the expansion of palliative care in LATAM and beyond.

Pergolizzi J, LeQuang J K, Wagner M, et al. (May 20, 2024) Challenges in Palliative Care in Latin America: A Narrative Review. Cureus 16(5): e60698. doi:10.7759/cureus.60698

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