World Hospice & Palliative Care Day spokeswoman Jo Pratt said the concept for a day dedicated to the hospice movement came from a
desire to 'ensure care for people with a terminal illness is a human right'.
'There are around 100 million people suffering from a terminal illness at any one time,' said Pratt. 'Hospices provide pain relief and counselling for both sufferers and their families, but they also offer practical advice on how people can put their affairs in order before they die.
'In the UK palliative care is part of national healthcare, but that is not the case in the developing world. In India, for example, less than one per cent of the population has access to a hospice. No one should suffer and die without support.'
The day is being promoted by a massive media campaign. Activity includes Voices for Hospices – billed as the 'world's largest simultaneous singing event'.
Local press are being targeted to cover events in their area, while major hospice organisations will oversee national media campaigns.
An interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu will air on the BBC World Service, while a report entitled 'Suffering at the End of Life – The State of the World' is set to be released next month at an event at The British Academy in London.