A rare show of unity in palliative care

The tryst between Kerala and Bangladesh in the field of palliative care has been further consolidated with a batch of 36 participants from the South Asian nation successfully completing a bereavement companionship programme in a first-of-its-kind initiative.

Incidentally, this was also the first international batch to be trained virtually under the Bereavement Companionship Programme being run jointly by Mission Better Tomorrow, an NGO, Kozhikode-based Institute of Palliative Medicine, and the Sydney-based Death Literacy Institute. The batch was an eclectic mix of doctors, nurses, professors, mental health workers, and activists chosen jointly by the Palliative Care Society of Bangladesh and Phoenix Wellness Centre, Bangladesh.

One of the major highlights of the programme was the active participation of Nezamuddin Ahmad, who is considered the father of palliative care in Bangladesh and the founder-director of the Palliative Care Society of Bangladesh. “Whatever development witnessed in palliative care in Bangladesh is thanks to the collaboration with the Institute of Palliative Medicine dating back to 2005. The bereavement training programme has been highly successful, and we look at taking it forward with the training of more batches from our country,” said Mr. Ahmad over the phone from Bangladesh.

The training programme usually lasts 15 hours spread over three days but was extended to 18 hours over four days to adapt the programme to the requirements of the local culture of the participants. Training for more international batches, including a batch from Australia and multiple batches from Bangladesh, is on the anvil.

“We have generated the bereavement manual in Bangla along with English and Malayalam to facilitate identification of future trainers in Bangladesh. Since bereavement is closely associated with the local culture, the manual will be constantly modified to adapt to different regions and countries as we plan to expand the training programme globally,” said Suresh Kumar, founder-director, Institute of Palliative Medicines, a collaborating centre of the World Health Organisation.

Though the programme was launched in the wake of the pandemic, it was conceived much before based on feedback from people who have gone through bereavement in the last couple of years. So far, five batches, including four from within the State, have undergone the training programme, which is open to anyone aged 21 years and above. It focuses on developing the basic skills of companionship to help bereaved people cope with their grief and loss and deal with their complex emotional state.

“We are focusing on training the trainers with those interested in and with the competency to be roped in from among the batches that have already completed the training. This will help us run multiple batches, as there is a long waiting list of interested participants,” said Saif Mohammed, CEO, Mission Better Tomorrow.

Sunjida Shahriah, director, Phoenix Wellness Centre, found the programme very effective and cited the zero dropout rate among participants as a sign of how well the programme is being run.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 6:01:55 AM |

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