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One major trend we're seeing around the world is a growing elderly population. People are living longer, largely thanks to advancements in healthcare and treatments of preventable diseases. With this shift, doctors and hospitals have embraced a form of pain treatment called palliative care-prioritizing a patient's quality of life over extending his or her life as long as possible.
Taking this into account, The Economist recently published a "Quality of Death" index. We've covered countries with the highest quality of life (or happiness) before, but what about someone's well-being at the end of their lives? In the highest-ranking countries, doctors have easy access to opiates and the use of such medicine is not stigmatized (or illegal). In countries like the Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, palliative and hospice care are built into the healthcare system. More generally, patients nearing the end of their lives receive a great deal of support. It's also worth noting that countries at the top of the index are wealthy.
Countries that indexed poorly tended to have limited access to such services. In China, for instance, there are over 400 cancer hospitals, but less than 1 percent of the population can access such facilities. That will be one of the major challenges in improving healthcare for the world's aging population: access. Currently, it's estimated that, globally, about 10 percent of people who need end-of-life care have access to it.
The 2015 Quality of Death Index (economistinsights.com)
"Everyone hopes for a good death, or rather, "a good life to the very end" , but until recently there was little dedicated effort and investment to provide the resources and education that would make that possible."
Pain and Palliative Care: The Emergence of New Specialties (academia.edu)
"The clinical and cultural significance of pain associated with advanced cancer means that the development of methods for its relief occupies a special place within the history of modern medicine."
China's Population Destiny: The Looming Crisis (brookings.edu)
"Observers of China's rise, when assessing the implications for global peace and prosperity, have largely focused their attention on the country's economy, on its energy and resource needs, on the environmental consequences of its rapid expansion, and on the nation's military buildup and strategic ambitions."