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PALCHASE appeal to assess need and provide palliative care for Rohingyan refugees

Author: Joan Marston
17 November 2017

Joan Marston, founder and co-chair of PALCHASE, writes of the need urgent need to assess and train assistants to provide palliative care to the Rohingyan refugees in the Cox Bazar camp in Bangladesh.

Last month we celebrated World Hospice and Palliative Care Day where we called on countries to ensure palliative care was part of Universal Health Coverage and called out to the world not to leave those suffering behind. 

The recent Lancet Commission Report: Alleviating the Access Abyss in Palliative Care and Pain Relief: an Imperative of Universal Health Coverage identified the urgent need for palliative care in humanitarian situations; the World Health Organisation has an active Working Group developing Guidance Documents and the EAPC has set up a new Task Force to look at palliative care for refugees and migrants. 

The present media reports on the appalling tragedy of the over 600,000 Rohingyan refugees has highlighted the immense human suffering of babies, children and adults – how much worse must be the suffering of those with serious illnesses and life-threatening conditions who have no access to palliative care and pain management?

This is a “Wake-up call” and a challenge to us as a global palliative care community who promote the concept of Compassionate Communities to put these ideals into action. 

A small group of energetic and concerned individuals in Bangladesh and other countries have worked quickly on a plan and tools for a Rapid Assessment of palliative care needs in the Cox Bazar refugee camp. We have permission to both carry out this assessment and begin to train local people to assist us in gathering the data, and later to be trained as Palliative Care Assistants. 

We also have Dr Farzana Khan from Bangladesh and Dr Megan Doherty from World Child Cancer eager, willing and ready to begin with the assessment. What we still need, and need quickly, is to raise the relatively small sum of $4,500 to carry out the assessment and to begin to train people on the ground to become palliative care assistants. A donation to this can be made through the IAHPC website, marked PALCHASE, and will assist us to attain our vision of “Quality Palliative Care for All”.

Please consider donating to this humanitarian initiative and join us in PALCHASE as together we can bring relief to at least those suffering from life-limiting and chronic conditions in these appalling refugee situations. 

Click here to make your donation via the IAHPC website. Please remember to reference PALCHASE when you donate.


PALCHASE is a collaboration of individuals determined to ensure palliative care as part of the humanitarian response. We are hosted by the IAHPC and work together with a number of global and national organisations and advocates. The co-chairs are members of the WHO Working Group developing guidance in palliative care in humanitarian emergencies. 

Feel free to contact the co-chairs, Dr Brett Sutton and Joan Marston with any queries or suggestions. They can be contacted via their email addresses supplied below.

Dr Brett Sutton:
Joan Marston RN:

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