The children from the paediatric oncology ward at Chittagong Medical College(CMC) Hospital in Chittagong, Bangladesh recently received a wonderful surprise were they got to meet the South African Cricket team during their ODI series in Bangladesh. This meeting was organised by the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) with the help of Cricket South Africa.
The CMC Hospital is a government institution that is the largest in Chittagong at present. The hospital is linked to Chittagong Medical College which is part of Chittagong University. CMC hospital has a large paediatric oncology ward, with over 100 children, that is run by Dr Rezaul Karim who is Associate Professor and Head of Paediatric Hematology and Oncology.
There was an air of great excitement in the paediatric oncology wards as the children showed off their newly signed cricket bats and told of their fun-filled day at the cricket stadium, to their caregivers. Dr Karim explained that, “Most of these children have leukaemia, and it is a challenge treating them from home. They are very poor and some live a long distance away from the hospital. Many of the children stay in the hospital for long periods of time.”
Dr Karim continued to explain that a lack of resources is one of their biggest challenges. The hospital has very limited government paid staff but with the help of outside funding they have managed to hire caregivers, socials workers and nurses to give the children more individual attention.
In the few years that Dr Karim joined CMC Hospital, he and his team have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life of the children with life-limiting conditions. They have recently purchased new equipment that allows them to record and keep the database of the children they care for. Dr Karim explains the urgent need and lack of children’s palliative care services in Bangladesh, he says “I look forward to working closely with the International Children’s Palliative Care Network to develop, and make children’s palliative care services more accessible in Chittagong in the near future.”