Implementation of palliative care in Lebanon: past, present, and future

Michel Daher, Elie Estephan, Huda Abu-Saad Huijer, Zoher Naja
Le Journal Médical Libanais. the Lebanese Medical Journal 2008, 56 (2): 70-6
The goal of palliative care (PC) is to relieve suffering. PC is an urgent humanitarian need worldwide for people with cancer and other chronic fatal diseases. PC in Lebanon has made some important strides in the last decade but it is still in its infancy. More attention needs to be given in the near future to the implementation of the recommendations already listed by previous meetings and workshops. In order to do so, it is necessary to change the legislative system in Lebanon in order to recognize and to integrate this new discipline. Education and training of health professionals in PC should be provided by medical and nursing schools throughout the country. Postgraduate education in medicine and nursing and ensuing certification should be made available. Ideally, PC services should be provided from the time of diagnosis of life-threatening illness, adapting to the increasing needs of cancer patients and their families as the disease progresses into the terminal phase. They should also provide support to families in their bereavement. It is as important and essential to involve policy makers in the development of pain relief and PC services and clinics which meet the needs of the population in Lebanon. Effective PC services should be integrated into the existing health system at all levels of care, especially community and home-based care. They involve the public and the private sector and are adapted to the specific cultural, social and economic setting. In order to respond to the cancer priority needs in a community and make the best use of scarce resources, PC services should be strategically linked to cancer prevention, early detection and treatment services. The time will come for Lebanon to form the National Council for Pain Relief and Palliative Care as an advocacy and coordination body for pain relief and PC in the near future. To that effect, we believe the future is near.

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