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New UK Aid Direct funded project to build compassionate communities providing care for the seriously ill in Bangladesh towards Universal Health Coverage

Author: Kate Jackson, WHPCA
12 June 2018

Today, the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) is delighted to announce a new innovative project funded by UK Aid Direct to build a compassionate community to ensure people access the health care that they need when living with and dying from serious illness in the Narayanganj City Corporation of Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh people are living and dying with serious pain and suffering because there are so few hospice and palliative care services and essential palliative care is not included as part of Universal Health Coverage.

This project aims to address this by providing a model of care in one Bangladesh city which shows how compassionate palliative care alleviates suffering, positively impacts people’s quality of life and is a cost effective and ethical imperative of health systems. It is crucial for achieving Universal Health Coverage – one of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed by all government in 2015. 

The UK is the place where modern hospice and palliative care began and has a strong hospice movement and a comprehensive national health service. The UK aims to ensure that adults and children with serious illness such as cancer, dementia and heart conditions can access the palliative care they need and that it is free at the point of use.

UK Aid Direct’s leadership in supporting this innovative approach in Bangladesh will show how palliative care is an essential part of a good health system, how it alleviates suffering and is a cost effective and critical part of Universal Health Coverage within Bangladesh. 

The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance is a UK registered charity with a network of 324 hospice and palliative care organisations working across 95 countries. Our vision is a world of universal access to hospice and palliative care for all those who need it.

The project will be delivered in partnership with the Centre for Palliative Care in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

Professor Kanak Kanti Barua, the newly appointed Vice Chancellor of BSMMU says: “Leaving nobody behind, the very basic theme of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) will be taken one more step forward with the proper implementation of the project.

"The unique feature is that the concept of holistic care of the incurably and chronically ill patients and their families now will go beyond not only the university territory, but also outside the Dhaka City. Hopefully this will be an example model of community-oriented palliative care for developing countries around the world.” 

Professor Nezamuddin Ahmad, Professor and Chairman of  Department of Palliative Medicine in the University’s Centre for Palliative Care says: “This project will be a leading light in Bangladesh to stop needless suffering and to promote compassion and understanding. The suffering that women, men and children with serious illness and their family members experience as a result of physical, psychosocial, economic and legal issues can and must be addressed.

"Palliative care is something that should be available to all who need it in Bangladesh. We thank UK Aid Direct and the people of the UK for their support.” 

Lucy Watts, MBE, a palliative care patient in the UK and founder of the patient advocacy network, Palliative Care Voices, says: “I am living with a condition which means I access palliative care. I need constant pain relief, I am fed through a tube into my bloodstream and I am in a wheelchair. But my life is full and I live well partly because of palliative care and the UK health services and hospices.

"People who have conditions like me in Bangladesh and worldwide should have access to good quality palliative care to end serious health related suffering and the UK can lead the way to make this happen.”

Dr Stephen Connor, Executive Director of the WHPCA, said: “The UK is the home of the hospice and palliative care movement and the UK’s experience of Universal Health Coverage in terms of the NHS is something that can be shared and provide lessons for many countries worldwide.

"The leadership of UK Aid Direct in supporting this project on palliative care as part of Universal Health Coverage in Bangladesh is a great step forward in tackling the epidemic of serious health related suffering worldwide.”

The Center for Palliative Care at BSMMU is demonstrating how compassionate, high-quality person centered care can be provided with relatively low resources. This model of community-based care can be drawn as an example for services in both high- and low-income countries.  

This project was funded by UK aid from the British people.

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