Palliative care is a developing branch of health care 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.
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 Neighborhood 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 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.
Palliative care is in its infancy in Bangladesh, both conceptually and its practice. Very few services are available to the needy. Bangladesh is estimated to have more than one million patients with cancer at any point of time. Possibly an equal number of patients with other mostly incurable diseases like AIDS, progressive neurological diseases, end stage cardiac and respiratory and other non communicable diseases. The total number of patients in need of palliative care as per the WHO estimate is more than 600,000 in a year.
From 2010, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University has introduced the six week program of Basic Certificate Course in Palliative Medicine(BCCPM). This is jointly organized by BSMMU and IPM, Kerala, India. In the six weeks course, expert doctors from IPM join on the last week along with the doctors of BSMMU to monitor, teach as well as to evaluate the doctors getting the Basic Certificate Course in Palliative Medicine. In this first course of BCCPM, ended on May 22nd, 2010, 4 doctors of Bangladesh is trained and certified on this Basic Certificate Course Of Palliative Medicine. The next six weeks course is starting on September 10, 2010.
Touching Souls International, a nonprofit organization provides the week long expenses for the expert doctors from Institute of Palliative Medicine, Kerala, India to train the doctors of Bangladesh in Palliative Care. Goal of Touching Souls International is to train more doctors of Bangladesh in Palliative Care, so in return these doctors can provide their service in palliative care for the patients in need