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Palliative care work by EMMS and partners in Nepal highlighted on Scottish news channel

Author: Gary Brough, EMMS International
22 December 2016

STV News, a Scottish national news broadcaster, recently travelled to Nepal to shed a light on the need for growth and improvement in palliative care provision and to highlight the work of EMMS International partners in Nepal to meet this need.

Current provision focuses on urban areas and, in particular, Kathmandu. STV News journalist, Susan Ripoll highlighted the pressing need to reach remote communities with specialist care: “Nepal is vastly under resourced when it comes to providing help with serious illnesses and conditions,” she said.

“There are just 10 centres providing palliative care, only one in rural Nepal. A staggering figure when more than 80% of the population lives in these remote areas.”

STV News travelled with EMMS International to see the green shoots of palliative care development in the country.

To date work has included a needs assessment, intensive training and mentoring programme for one of Nepal’s first palliative care nurse specialists and a survey of the impact of the earthquakes on care for the most vulnerable.

The coverage, which supports EMMS International’s Christmas appeal, highlights the story of those who would benefit from the development of services.

Pabitra, a young woman from Tansen, was paralysed and had been bed-bound for years before being introduced into trainee nurse specialist, Manju.

She couldn’t care for herself or her daughter, but with the care and friendship from Nurse Manju she is now able to walk again, look after herself and enjoy time with her daughter.

For people outside of Nepal, the devastating earthquakes of 2015 come to mind when the country’s name is mentioned.

However, the lack of health services for poorer, rural communities is an ongoing emergency for the country. The coverage by STV news highlights the impact of the earthquakes on already vulnerable people.

Nepal’s geography and rural population present a significant challenge to providing palliative care.

The STV features highlight hopes for the future, including the development of a specialist centre in Pokhara that will not only improve provision of care locally, but also be a place for more health workers to train.

There is much to be encouraged by, particularly in terms of the availability of pain relief. However, without more specialist training, the benefits of these advances cannot be experienced by the majority of people living in Nepal.

Dr Bishnu Paudel of the Nepalese Association of Palliative Care stress the importance of extending provision in the final of three reports. He said: “If somebody suffers, he or she should get access to the pain medicine, psychological support, physical support, social support. This is very basic. This is a human right. This is our duty; we have to provide it.”

EMMS International is working with the International Nepal Fellowship in Nepal, and with partners in India and Malawi to improve access to palliative care. Find out more about the STV News coverage at www.emms.org/stv.

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