01 Mar '24

A lifelong advocate for a dignified end

door Gerard Hautekeur
‘Belgium has every reason to be proud of its record on this score, as it is the only country in the world where patient rights, palliative care, and euthanasia are enshrined in law,’ says professor Wim Distelmans.

He is the driving force behind the Dignified End-of-Life Care Centre of Expertise, the only one of its kind in Belgium and Europe. He is now sounding the alarm because the palliative home care sector is in dire straits and needs additional funding in the short term. A member of the palliative care support team at Brussels University Hospital, the 71-year-old oncologist, has been a staunch advocate for palliative care and a dignified end of life throughout his career. Our interview with him took place at the TOPAZ day centre in Wemmel, which is home to several organisations lending support to terminally ill people and helping to preserve their dignity during their last days.