Palliative Care in Universal Health Coverage

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Ahmet Kayhan KORKUSUZ, a first-year medical student at Istanbul Medipol University, Turkey. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Have you ever heard of the term ‘‘Palliative Care’’ before? When do you think people ought to get it, is it just in times that they are with life-threatening or terminal diseases? People of any age and at any stage in an illness, no matter that illness is chronic, curable, or life-threatening, can get Palliative Care. It has also been considered as an integral part of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) since 2014. Therefore, to know what it aims to and how to get benefited from it show its importance for everybody.

In the first place, it is essential to learn the basics of Palliative Care. It is based on improving the quality of patients, both children and adults, and their families – the reason why it includes their families is that when a person becomes patient, his/her family is affected in many ways as well, such as how SARS-COV-2 has been affecting both patients and their families. Regrettably, most people believe that Palliative Care is just for the ones with physical illnesses, and not necessarily needed for the rest. The truth is that Palliative Care looks after all of the patients with physical, psychosocial, and spiritual illnesses.

 When it comes to The Palliative Care Team, it is mainly made up of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers such as pharmacists, dietitians, rehabilitation therapists, spiritual care practitioner, etc. depending on the needs of patients. Another factor that affects the team is the quality of the hospital which makes up the team and provides the services. Besides all of those, those healthcare workers are given orders about patients to complete by the hospital. In addition, they are responsible for expert treatments, to provide them for unusual pains and symptoms. Then, having an open discussion about the treatment choices could make it easy to decide on the most accurate treatment. Moreover, to make a smooth transition from a nursing home, or home to the hospital could be a case. Lastly, to support the patients and their families in terms of emotional, practical, and spiritual.

To sum up, Palliative Care aims to improve the quality of patients’ and their families’ lives. It is for people of any age and at any stage in illnesses, although it is assumed that it is for the ones with life-threatening, or incurable illnesses. To know the basics of Palliative Care could make people who believe that getting palliative health care is a sign of weakness understand its actual meaning. Besides, The Palliative Care Team is made up of several health workers, such as doctors, nurses, spiritual care practitioners, etc. and they provide the services like practical, emotional, and spiritual supports. As advocated in 2014 by WHO, we, as medical students, and potential Palliative Care Team members, must advocate for inclusion of Palliative Care in UHC, and advocate for the healthcare workers who sacrifice themselves – as long as the conditions allow us.

About the author

He is Ahmet Kayhan KORKUSUZ, a first-year medical student at Istanbul Medipol University, Turkey. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations. Also, an active member of TurkMSIC, and EMSA in Turkey. He has always believed that Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability. Throughout medicine, He wants to see what others could not see. Academically, he is interested in physiology and cardiology. He is of the opinion that a good person is the one who has the key to making people feel better.

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