Bangladesh to adopt Kerala model palliative care policy

K.P.M. Basheer

Programme in partnership with IPM, Kozhikode

IPM has trained

doctors, nurses

in Bangladesh

KOCHI: Bangladesh is planning to adopt a palliative care policy on the lines of the one announced last year by the Kerala government, the only government in Asia to have come out with such a policy.

Bangladesh, which in the past few years has made some strides in public health, has a large number of people in need of palliative care. The country, with 180 million people and scarce resources and medical infrastructure, is also looking at the Kerala model of cost-effective community-based palliative care called Neighbourhood Network in Palliative Care (NNPC) for adaptation. The effort is spearheaded by the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka, the only medical university in that country, in partnership with the Institute of Palliative Medicine (IPM), Kozhikode. The IPM, which is a training and research centre backed by World Health Organisation, has recently trained the first generation of palliative care doctors and nurses in Bangladesh.

Palliative care is a developing branch of healthcare that deals with the terminally-ill, incurably-ill and chronically bed-ridden (TI-II-CB) people. A large percentage of the patients who need palliative care are cancer patients in extreme pain; some of them are in the terminal stage. Millions of others suffering from paraplegia, acute renal and respiratory problems, and many other incurable illnesses also benefit from palliative care. Kerala’s unique community-based palliative care system, with its focus on home care by community volunteers, has been considered an ideal model for developing countries. Bangladeshi palliative care professionals, trained at IPM, had recommended to their country’s leaders to adopt the NNPC as well as a Kerala-type palliative care policy. Already, an Indo-Bangladesh Joint Mission in Palliative Care has been set up to facilitate mutual support and cooperation between the IPM and the Bangabandu University. The mission aims at promoting a public health approach in palliative care in the sub-continent. The mission aims at acting as a broad platform for people in palliative care sector in India and Bangladesh to share experiences and exchange ideas. The joint mission has plans to hold joint conferences and workshops, encourage twinning programmes between palliative care units in the two countries and to develop advocacy, awareness and training programmes in the region.

The IPM and the Bangabandhu University recently signed a memorandum of understanding for running palliative care courses for Bangladeshi doctors, nurses and volunteers at the university. Three IPM experts will help the university run the courses. Also, for the next five years, Bangladeshi professionals will be trained at IPM free-of-cost.

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