“Now I know about Palliative Care. My grandmother is not alive today. If I knew before, my grandmother could have gotten palliative care then”, said 15-year old Tahmina during a one hour palliative care orientation session at her school.
She is part of an effort to increase public awareness of palliative care benefits among youth in Narayanganj, Bangladesh. To date, the programme has already delivered school-based orientations in palliative care to 1,098 students from 12 different schools and colleges in the city.
This is Bangladesh’s first initiative in training students, recognising that youth play a role as caregivers to loved ones and neighbors living with serious health related suffering. They also play a role in information sharing within the community.
Dr. Suresh Kumar, Technical Advisor of Institute of Palliative Medicine (IPM) in Bangladesh conceptualised this aspect of the programme when he first visited the Compassionate Narayanganj hub in December 2018.
Because the session is only one-hour, it is intentionally planned to be interactive with educational input from project medical consultants interacting with comments and questions from students.
Doctors and nurses provide lectures on the very basic concepts of palliative care for 30 minutes, followed by a candid feedback session with the students. It is during the feedback sessions that students express their opinions, their understanding of palliative care principles, and their experience with family members or neighbors who need palliative care. They also learn how they can engage community volunteers and receive further training.
As a result of this initiative, some of these students have referred a number of the project’s patients to receive services. Staff have trained interested participants in a more in-depth three-day volunteers training course where they also receive IEC materials, including brochures and pens.
“Compassionate Narayanganj” is a pilot project which includes a unique collaboration between Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Worldwide Hospice & Palliative Care Alliances (WHPCA) and Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) to ensuring that palliative care is available throughout the country. This project is funded by UK AID Direct.