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"Knowing the work of palliative care professionals would help its greater implementation in the Spanish healthcare system."

Ana Carvajal, professor at the University of Navarra, defends the need for adequate integration of this care requested by more than 200,000 patients.

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Ana Carvajal
PHOTO: Manuel Castells
20/10/14 12:43 Miriam Salcedo

Ana Carvajal, professor of the Master's Degree in Palliative Care Nursing at the School of Nursing of the University of Navarra, states that"knowing the work of palliative care professionals would help its greater implementation in the Spanish healthcare system". She points this out in relation to the "First global atlas of unmet palliative care needs", published by the World Health Organization, which states that only 20 countries in the world have adequately integrated palliative care into their healthcare system, among which Spain is not included.

According to an international study on Palliative Care, conducted by the University of Navarra's ATLANTES program at with the University of Glasgow and . Institute for Culture and Society of the University of Navarra at partnership with the University of Glasgow and the European Palliative Careassociation , Spain currently has some 375 palliative care services to care for more than 200,000 citizens with advanced or terminal illnesses and their more than one million family members.

In today's increasingly aging society and with a high risk of suffering a chronic disease, the expert insists that in order to achieve a greater extension of these services throughout the national territory it is necessary to"reflect on the role of palliative care professionals, since they are the ones who attend to all the needs of the patient in the advanced stages of the disease, caring for them in a global manner and accompanying them until the end of their lives. 

Offering personalized comprehensive palliative care

Palliative care specialists, says Professor Carvajal, "do not only treat the disease, but the person who is living that status, individually, with his or her history, circumstances, environment and beliefs; they care for the patient and his or her family members".

To offer this care subject requires, the expert continues, a commitment staff and professional commitment from the nurse: "Only from this commitment can the vulnerability and dependence of the sick person be discovered. In this way, they can be cared for in a comprehensive and personalized way to alleviate their suffering during the course of the disease and support their relatives in the process".

Carvajal also states that"there is scientific evidence that a cost-effective and quality healthcare system can only be achieved when it seeks the well-being of the whole person, his or her family and community.