Palliative Care: A Gap to fill in healthcare service

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Towkir Ahmed Joy, a third year medical student pursuing his study at Sheikh Sayera Khatun Medical College located at Gopalganj, Bangladesh. He is affiliated with 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.

According to WHO, “Universal health coverage means that all people have access to the health care services they need, when and where they need them without financial hardship. It includes the full range of essential health services, from health promotion, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.”

Palliative care is an approach that qualifies the life of patients and their families, undergoing life limiting conditions, through the relief of suffering by means of early assessment, taking circumstantial steps and treatment of pain not only by medical but also associated with other problems such as physical, psychological, spiritual. To ensure people under clinical condition are living their final days comfortably and without any distress is as important as confirming a good demise. It moderates the pain of the patient through offering particular medication such as oral morphine and focuses on a lenient lifestyle for the patient as possible. Despite improving quality of life has been seamlessly avoided in public health discourse to pursue prevention and cure, it can be argued that it has been at the expense of alleviating pain. On the contrary, universal health coverage has assigned the full spectrum of necessary health care services from prenatal to death which includes health promotion. Palliative care is a fundamental part of healthcare service. Govt should be overlooking the advocacy of enlisting hospice and palliative care for the needy people.   

Palliative care is not expensive. There are irrefutable evidences that confirms the ‘cost-effectiveness’ of palliative care which can tackle some criteria addressed as ‘leading sources of inefficiency’ in health care service governed by WHO. Palliative care is provided to the patient, wherever they are locating, by any team depending on their availability of resources and installation. The team may include any organisation, family member, philanthropic community, social workers and medical students. Due to the lack of certain information students from various backgrounds are not fully aware of this service which is promoted by WHO but perhaps not functionally included in the healthcare services in many countries. Further Govt and non-Govt hospitals should acknowledge the identification of perfect healthcare system can be accomplished by integrating the palliative care and hospice.

Students specifically coming from medical background should be talking and promoting this particular service’s rigorous inclusion into the national health care policy. Doctors and designated health care personnel should discuss about this service, cost effectivity and availability of resources to ensure the quality service for patients. Civil society including different patient groups should be empowered and assisted to work with Govt to raise peoples’ awareness about their right to health including palliative care and enlighten the society as well students.

People need to have accessibility to hospice and palliative care as soon as they are diagnosed with life threatening condition as a means of civil right. We need to advocate on the integration of rights to palliative care into Govt and non-Govt healthcare policy and universal health coverage scheme, fitting strategies and monitoring frameworks at global, international and national level.

About the author

Towkir Ahmed Joy is a third year medical student pursuing his study at Sheikh Sayera Khatun Medical College located at Gopalganj. Along with his education he’s involved with different co-curricular activities such as social, voluntary, and youth developmental (BYLC). Currently he’s serving partly as a Local officer of SCORP under campus oriented local committee of BMSS (NMO of IFMSA). He’s also an active member of the medicine club which is a renowned medical students association that works for societal and philanthropic purposes. He has also participated in campus programs, debates, different competitions and various clubs priorly.

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