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Multi-professional team from Bangladesh travel to Singapore for pan-Asian palliative care conference

Author: Fazle Noor Biswas, Clinical Pharmacist, Department of Palliative Medicine, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh
22 March 2018

It was a great opportunity for me to attend the 12th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference (APHC) in Singapore, organised by the Singapore Hospice Council and Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network in July last year.

A seven-member multi-professional team consisting of physicians, pharmacists and nurses from our Palliative Medicine Department of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University travelled to the Conference.

I met with renowned palliative care experts and colleagues from around the world, and I had the chance to present a poster on: ‘Prevalence of Receiving Complementary and Alternative Therapy (CAT) Among the Palliative Care Patients in Bangladesh Context’.

All the sessions scheduled in the conference were very interesting and informative. I have learned many new things by attending the sessions which will help me to improve my daily practice.

APHC is the platform where palliative care professions from across the region come together to share their learning and work for palliative care patients and families more effectively.

I learned advanced management in breathlessness, anorexia management, neuropathic pain management, step 4 of WHO analgesic ladder, burdens of a caregiver, art therapy, community participation in palliative care and statistics of opioid use in the world.

A very interesting session was palliative outcome measurement tools in palliative care which was presented by Dr Ping Guo.

Another important reason for my attendance at this conference was to participate in a workshop on: 'The Role of Pharmacist in Palliative Care', which was very informative and helped me to improve my clinical pharmacy practice.

By attending this workshop I got to know more about the role and responsibilities of a palliative care pharmacist. The workshop was jointly organised by Lien Collaborative for Palliative Care (LCPC) and APHN at Duke-NUS Medical School.

I took the opportunity by participating in this conference to renew my individual membership of both APHN and International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC).

It was a good experience to meet with the palliative care professionals from different organisations and countries which gave me the opportunities to learn from them about their activities and clinical practice. We took the chance to exchange views and discuss recent updates on palliative care.

My new knowledge and skills definitely improved my daily clinical practice in case of patient care, communication process, my role and responsibilities as a palliative care pharmacist and also team work. By sharing this new knowledge helps, not only for me but also for my team, to improve the total care pathway.

I am so grateful to IAHPC, as a recipient of IAHPC Travelling Scholarship, that they gave me the opportunity to attend the 12th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference in Singapore. This Travelling Scholarship covered all the expenses of my conference registration, LCPC-APHN-SHC workshop, Bangladesh to Singapore air ticket, hotel accommodation and local transportation cost. It would have been impossible for me to afford all these expenses if I could not get this scholarship.

Palliative care is relatively new in Bangladesh where many health care professionals as well as community members do not understand the concept clearly or the importance of total care for a patient with life limiting conditions.

One of the primary needs in our country is to make the public understand the concept of palliative care. In Bangladesh, at any given point of time, six hundred thousand people are in need of palliative care.

It is a big challenge for us to ensure community participation. This is very important for the long term sustainability of any palliative care service in developing countries where so many people are seeking palliative care for their unbearable symptom burden.

Working as a hospital or clinical pharmacist at any hospital setting is not a popular job in Bangladesh for a pharmacist. There is little available scope of pharmacy practice here in Bangladesh.

Another big challenge for me as a pharmacist is to develop the role of the specialised clinical pharmacist in palliative care.

Whatever I have learnt from this conference and workshop for pharmacists, the new knowledge, ideas and skills I would like to apply in my daily work which will help me to overcome these barriers. I would like to share my all new knowledge with my team for development of palliative care in Bangladesh and also for total team improvement in the future.

You can contact Fazle at fazlenoorbiswas@gmail.com

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