Three days of intensive training on children’s palliative care was recently held from 4 – 6 June in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. This Paediatric Palliative Care Master Class, hosted by Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, was supported by World Child Cancer and the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) and was organized by the Children’s Palliative Care Initiative in Bangladesh. The content of that training program included an introduction to paediatric palliative care, pain management in children, advanced communication skills with children, common symptoms in paediatric palliative care, spiritual and emotional care for children, nursing issues in palliative care, neonatal palliative care, and leadership skills in palliative care.
In Bangladesh, 29,000 children with of life-limiting and life-threatening conditions need the palliative care each year, but only 2% of these children are currently able to access palliative care services. The need for training of healthcare professionals in palliative care for children is an imperative if services are to be developed to reach the remaining 98% of these children.
Faculty and participants
The workshop included three external faculty, with extensive experience and expertise in the field of Paediatric Palliative Care; Dr. Lulu Mathews (Institute of Palliative Medicine, Kerala), Dr. Gayatri Palat (MNJ Institute of Oncology and RCC, Hyderabad) and Dr. Pradnya Talawadekar (Children’s Palliative Care Project, Mumbai). The local faculty included Dr. Megan Doherty, Prof. Nezamuddin Ahmad, Dr. Farzana Khan, Dr. Rowmana Dowla, Dr. Shahinur Kabir and Dr. Jameela Khan.
The workshop participants included paediatricians, palliative care physicians, nurses, pharmacists, palliative care assistants, and social workers. The participants were from a variety of hospitals and palliative care organizations in Dhaka, including Ashic Palliative Care Unit, Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Hospice Bangladesh and Shanti Oncology and Palliative Care Unit, National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital, and the Centre for Palliative Care (CPC) at BSMMU. There were over 85 participants on each of the three days.
The aims of this workshop were:
- To encourage the development of paediatric palliative care (PPC) services in Bangladesh by creating awareness among health professionals about PPC.
- To developed a policy and guidelines for PPC in Bangladesh.
- To develop the knowledge and skills of health care professionals to care for children with life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses
- To equip health care professionals to develop paediatric palliative care services at their own institutions.
The inaugural session was attended by physicians in various leadership roles at Dhaka Medical College, including the director of the hospital (Brig. General Mohammad Mizanur Rahman), principle of the hospital (Prof. Md. Ismail Khan), and the head of the department of pediatrics (Prof. Md. Abid Hossain Mollah). Additionally, Mr Christian Tardif, Head of Canadian Development Assistance Program at the Canadian High Commission to Bangladesh attended this opening session. All of the special guests spoke about the importance of paediatric palliative care to reduce suffering for children with serious illnesses and the impact that this will have on the quality of life of the child and their family
Policy and guidelines for Bangladesh
At the inaugural session of the workshop, Drs. Rumana Dowla and Megan Doherty presented the newly completed National Paediatric Palliative Care Policy and Guidelines for Bangladesh to government representatives from the Non-Communicable Disease Control Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Drs. Md. Faruk Ahmed Bhuiyan and Alim). This practical document, developed with the support of the Children’s Palliative Care Initiative in Bangladesh, will help to guide the development of palliative care services for children and families in Bangladesh.
Those who participated expressed that they were pleased to have attended the workshop and felt that they learned valuable skills which will assist them in caring for children with serious illnesses in the future.