: The urgent need for governments across the world to improve palliative care facilities for the elderly is the theme of programmes organised to mark the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day this year on Saturday.

Anil Kumar Paleri, secretary of Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC), said this year’s theme would be ‘‘Living to the end: palliative care for an ageing population.”

“There is often a misconception that palliative care is primarily for people with cancer. This is not true. The latest estimates from (World Health Organisation (WHO) show that older people with a range of conditions require palliative care and that in many disease groups the over 60s are the largest group in need. Globally, those in need of palliative care dying from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, Parkinson disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, nephritis and nephrosis, and cancer are predominantly in the over 60s age group,” he said.

In a statement here on Saturday, the IAPC secretary said the palliative care organisations were calling for urgent action from U.N. agencies, governments, private sector, and civil society to ensure inclusion of older people in the decision-making around their care options, easy access to hospice, and palliative care for older people living with, and dying from, life-limiting conditions, including non-communicable conditions and access to, and availability of, pain medications.

Indian Association of Palliative Care is the national organisation in India working to promote affordable and quality palliative care across the country through networking and support to palliative care institutions.

In connection with World Palliative Care Day, seminars, film show, walkathon, cultural programmes, and patient get-together are being organised in many places across the world.

Statistics released by IAPC on Friday show that around 24 million adults require palliative care at the end of life each year. The statistics compiled by IAPC said India had around 100 million elderly at present and the number was expected to increase to 323 million, constituting 20 per cent of the total population, by 2050.