Written by: Mridul Sarker, Coordinator, Home Based Palliative Care, Centre for Palliative Care (CPC), Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU)
Palliative care is an emerging issue in health care system of Bangladesh. A big part of the community people as well as health care providers does not know about palliative care. Centre for Palliative Care (CPC), Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) is continuing to expand its efforts to increase the public awareness among community people about palliative care as an integral part of care for people living with serious illnesses. They were trying to involve community to provide a better care for people with palliative care needs. To increase the awareness among the university students recently CPC took participate in the annual scientific program called “Pharmacy Week” organized by Department of Pharmacy under Faculty of Life Sciences of University of Development Alternative (UODA) at Dhanmondi, Dhaka held on 26 to 28 January 2016.
Professor Mujib Khan, Founder & President of Complete Education for Alternative Development (CEFAD), Prof. Dr. Emajuddin Ahamed, Vice-Chancellor and Prof. Dr. Mohammed Rahmatullah, Pro Vice-Chancellor of UODA came and inaugurates the program.
The chief guest of this program, Brigadier General A F Jaglul Ahmed (Chief Instructor, Defence Services Command & Staff College, Bangladesh) said that, “I do not know anything more about palliative care but undoubtedly this is an amazing service for dying patients and I think there is need more awareness program. This kind of noble service should spread-out everywhere in Bangladesh”.
Teachers and Students from various departments of “College of Development Alternative” (CODA) and “University of Development Alternative (UODA)” also came to join this program.
CPC organized a 3 days introductory course in palliative care for community volunteer whereas most of the community volunteers who work with Centre for Palliative Care were came from this university. All of them attend this 3 days introductory course.
A team consists of Fazle Noor Biswas (Clinical Pharmacist), Mridul Sarker (Home Care Coordinator), Md. Sakhawath Hossain and Tamanna Sarkar (Volunteers) from Center for Palliative Care took participate in this program to build up awareness among the students. To provide information easily we divide our booth into two parts. The first is for introducing the palliative care among students and provide the information about the services provided by the CPC (indoor, outdoor, home care, day care, telephone care and lymphedema care) and how patients can get those services. We also emphasized the growing need for palliative care in Bangladesh as it is estimated that more than 600,000 people in need of palliative care at any point of time.
Another part of the booth is for symptoms management; where we described the common symptoms of palliative care patients and how we will manage those symptoms. Especially about the cancer pain management, pain assessment scale, WHO analgesic ladder and use of morphine in advance cancer patients were described in details. We showed the ‘Bill’s Story’ video by projector.
Palliative care was a new topic for the many students so after they understand few words about the palliative care they were interested to know about the current situation of palliative care services in Bangladesh and how they can help for this terminal of patients.
We give a book stall where few books related to palliative care such as “Introducing Palliative Care by Robert G. Twycross”, “Oral morphine in Advance cancer by Robert G. Twycross”, Bengali version of Palliative Care Toolkit and Bengali version of a Book for Community Volunteer were display and sell. Interested students and teachers brought few of those to learn more.
Additionally, the “Palliative Care Society of Bangladesh (PCSB)” distributes leaflets about palliative care, home care and also invited to students and teachers to join the society as Life Time/General/Associate member. PCSB is working to take ahead palliative care in Bangladesh. It helps to provide “Home Based Palliative Care” to patients and their families at free of cost to those patients who lives within the 20km areas of BSMMU and wish to stay last few days of life at home with their family or unable to come hospital.
We collect some fund to help the poor patients of CPC for buying essential medicines like morphine sulphate, fulfill little wishes of patients etc.
The event was an excellent way to raise awareness among the students about the palliative care in Bangladesh.