Palliative care situation in Palestinian Authority

Mousa Shawawra, Amal Dweib Khleif
Journal of Pediatric Hematology/oncology 2011, 33 Suppl 1: S64-7
Palliative care is a very new concept in Palestine. In fact, it is still not applicable or provided within the Palestinian health care system. However, Al-Sadeel Society had organized a one day workshop in Bethlehem on November 2008 for the health professionals from the governmental and non-governmental sectors to initiate and introduce the idea of palliative care for the first time in Palestine. The general population of Palestine is approximately 2.4 millions (2007), with a life expectancy of 74.3 years of age, the death rate is 3.7 per 1000 population, having 8,910 deaths a year. Deaths due to cancer were 2,305 in five years (1999-2003), where 5,542 new cases were newly diagnosed in the same period. Health services available for cancer patients are hospital units either in patient or day care units. According to the ministry of health (MOH) statistics there are 75 beds in oncology departments in MOH hospitals; represent 2.7% of the total number of beds available, and 60 beds in daily care departments with an occupancy rate at 231.8%. There is no hospice or bereavement follow up care available for patients or their families. Despite the fact that the Palestinian culture is one of the cultures that respect and care for the elderly, but at the end of life, when the load of symptoms is high, most of the patient are care for at hospitals, and usually dye there, because the families are not able to care for their patients, and as there is no system for home care available for the Palestinian patients, and if it is available it is available in limited places and on private bases that are expensive and not affordable to the majority of patients, gross domestic product (GPD) per capita= 1,100 as 2007 estimates). We conducted a needs assessment survey within the only four facilities that provide care for the oncology patients in the West Bank and were filled by the direct health care providers. The results were expressing the fact that there is no palliative care service available for cancer patients or their families, absence of organizations strategic planning for palliative care, No presence of educational resources for palliative care, No presence of communication or consultation to the clergy man, Absence of bereavement support group, no active follow up for the patient and the family, no standards for palliative care service or training programs in palliative care, no home care service for palliative care, absence of community awareness for palliative care And Absence of national standard for palliative care. The recommendations that we can conclude, depending on the needs assessment that we did, and according to the recommendations that come up through the workshop that was organized by Al-Sadeel Society and was attended by key personnel from the Palestinian MOH who summarized the conclusion, are as follows: 1. The need for better quality care for the cancer patient.2. The need for training of health professionals in palliative care.3. The importance of networking and cooperation between the national NGO's and the MOH.4. The need for public awareness regarding the early detection for cancer especially breast cancer.5. The need for national policy and standards for palliative care and opioids legislations.6. The importance of base line data and research. 7. The need for interdisciplinary team work in the issue of cancer. 8. To involve palliative care education within the curriculum of schools of health professions.

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