Palliative care ‘a drop in the ocean’ but tide is changing

19112013Cambodia | The Phnom Penh Post – 15 November 2013 – Palliative care… is a relatively new concept in Cambodia with few specialist practitioners. Each year thousands of Cambodians die in unnecessary suffering for want of strong pain-killing medication or proper psychological care. Practitioners say barriers to Western-style care for the dying include reliance on families providing care, reluctance on the part of some medical staff to change their practices and to deliver bad news to patients, and – as in every other sector in Cambodia – lack of money. And yet – thanks in large part to Douleurs Sans Frontieres (Pain Without Borders) – palliative care ideals are gradually coming into practice in Cambodian public hospitals, non-government hospices and patients’ homes. According to anthropologist Susan Needham the palliative care ideal of a “good death” is actually very similar to the traditional Cambodian ideal. “From what I understand among Cambodians, it is believed that the moment of death affects the quality of the spirit’s afterlife,” Needham said. “The goal is to keep people calm and relaxed as they are dying (sounds like a form of palliative care to me).” However, in Cambodian hospitals doctors and nurses are generally responsible only for clinical curative treatment, not “comfort care.” Much of what’s considered palliative care… is left to patients’ families who are also expected to feed, bathe, toilet and even change the dressings of their loved ones….read more

An article from Media Watch, compiled and annotated by Barry R. Ashpole (Ontario, Canada). More reports can be found at IPCRC.NET