Palliative care should be introduced in major hospitals and healthcare institutions in the country to give patients, who suffer from life-threatening illness, dignity and hope, said health experts at a roundtable yesterday.
If a patient receives the care, despite knowing that her or his illness is not curable, she or he would be able to live a normal life.
Palliative care focuses on a patient, not the disease she or he is suffering from, said cancer specialist Bimalangshu R Dey.
According to the World Health Organization, palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
Ayat Skill Development Centre (ASDC) arranged the roundtable on “Palliative Care: A Call for Public Awareness and Policy Inclusion” at The Daily Star Centre in the capital. Health experts from both home and abroad spoke at the roundtable.
They suggested that the government include palliative care in the curriculum of medical students and nurses, incorporate the healthcare system in the national policy, and take an initiative to build its awareness.
Moderating the roundtable, Bimalangshu, an associate professor at the Cancer Center of Massachusetts General Hospital, USA, said palliative care is available in few hospitals like Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and Dhaka Medical College Hospital in Bangladesh at present.
For a larger implementation, the government has to take an initiative as it is not possible for the private organisations to do it alone, he said.
Dr Moarraf Hossain, director of National Institute for Cancer Research and Hospital, said 30 percent of the cancer patients, they have provided treatment to, could get cured.
The remaining 70 percent who suffered for a long time are considered as a burden on the family and society, he said, highlighting the importance of palliative care.
Praising the initiative of the roundtable, noted entrepreneur Rokia Afzal Rahman said, “At the end of the day, I feel I have to contribute to the society that has given me the opportunity to build myself.”
“Today, I am here to commit myself to be with you,” she told the roundtable.
Speaking as the chief guest, Deputy Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad Advocate Fazle Rabbi Miah said he would take steps to bring success to the initiative. He stressed the need for arranging awareness programmes on palliative care in different divisions.
Bushra Alam, senior health specialist of the World Bank in Bangladesh, suggested engaging the youth in building awareness on palliative care.
Prof MA Khan, head of Hematology, DMCH; Nusrat Aman, chief patron of ASDC; Sathyanarayanan Doraiswamy, chief of Health Programmes, UNFPA Bangladesh; Prof Judy Beal, dean, Simmons College of Nursing, Boston, USA, and Arif Mahmud, director, Medical Services, Apollo Hospitals, also spoke.