Balsam is a non-governmental organization that provides home based palliative care services for patients with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses.
Balsam aims to relieve patient suffering and improve the quality of life by providing medical, psychological, spiritual, social and practical support for patients and their families in the Greater Beirut area.
The report highlighted a significant improvement in the number of referrals from physicians as well as a notable increase in patient-days, that is the number of days spent by patients under the care of the Balsam team.
Patient referrals in 2014 came from 58 different physicians, an increase from only eight referring physicians three years ago, and 38 referring physicians in 2012.
Although the number of patients admitted to the Center was only 8% higher than in 2013, the number of patient-days increased by 71%, showing that patients are being referred earlier and staying longer.
These trends point towards an increased awareness among health care providers and patients in Lebanon with regards to the benefits of early palliative care intervention in the course of illness.
Dr Hibah Osman, executive and medical director of Balsam, said: “Health providers (in Lebanon) are clearly recognizing the benefits of palliative care; and the dramatic increase in patient-days shows that patients are being referred to us earlier in the course of their illness and remaining in our care for a longer period.
“This shift to early referral reflects that both physicians and patients are more open to the concept of palliative care and appreciative of its benefits. It is also a clear tribute to the quality of the service we are providing.”
In the coming years, the home palliative care team will increase the patient load with efforts directed towards advocacy and capacity building to make palliative care more accessible to people across the country.