Katherine Pettus

PhD, Political Theorist, Advocate for Improved Access to Internationally Controlled Medicines, Rights of Older Persons

Dr. Pettus holds a PhD in Political Theory from Columbia University, and a Masters in Health Policy and Law from the University of California San Diego. Her PhD dissertation appeared as a book, ‘Felony Disenfranchisement in America’, now in 2nd edition with SUNY Press, and her Masters Thesis studied the interface between international law and access to essential controlled medicines. Katherine trained as a hospice volunteer in 2010 and joined the Leadership Development Initiative at the Institute for Palliative Medicine in 2011 in San Diego and Columbus. She began her international work in 2012, based in Budapest, and commuting to Vienna for regular meetings of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, raising awareness about the “global pandemic of untreated pain” among government representatives and UN officers. Katherine travels to meetings around the world, advocating for improved access to internationally controlled essential medicines such as morphine, as a component of the right to health. She also addresses palliative care issues for older persons, for children, in universal coverage, for non- communicable diseases (NCDs), and palliative care medications in national essential medicines lists. Katherine writes regularly on policy issues for the IAHPC newsletter, the European Association for Palliative Care Blog, and eHospice. She grounds her European and US advocacy work in her visits to partners in Africa and India, where she participates ‘as often as possible’ in home care with colleagues and their teams who work in extremely challenging circumstances to deliver palliative care to the indigent and mentally ill. She identifies her original role models/mentors as Dr. Anne Merriman in Uganda, and Dr. M.R. Rajagopal in Kerala. Katherine was appointed to the Civil Society Task Force (CSTF) for UNGASS 2016 (UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem) as representative of “affected populations” with no access to internationally controlled essential medicines. In that capacity she will work with partners at the local, national, regional, and global levels to collect information to be presented to the UN General Assembly on the global issue of lack of access to essential medicines and best practices to ensure provision. In her ‘down time’ Katherine enjoys reading, meditation, yoga, and long walks, preferably in the countryside. She particularly loves visiting her sons and young grandchildren in Taos, New Mexico and California.