New project reaching older people in urban slums begins in Bangladesh

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This pilot project will extend outreach palliative care services into two urban slums in Dhaka. It is expected that within the one year project, we will reach 100 older people and their families with palliative care services and provide an evaluated model of care for future work.

Why is the project needed?

A global mapping of palliative care in 2011 found that Bangladesh has seven hospice and palliative care services.

Every year at least 250,000 people in Bangladesh require palliative care at the end of life, but Stephen Connor, WHPCA senior fellow, and researcher and editor of the Global Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Life (2014) has estimated that only 1070 patients accessed the pain and palliative care treatment they needed in 2012.

Dr Connor estimated that at least 160,000 of those in need are older people and it is unknown how many older people accessed quality care.

Bangladesh is a low income country. In the urban slums of Bangladesh, poverty makes the impact of life-limiting conditions devastating on family and community members.

Communities that are already impoverished and marginalised are caring for each other without support, their ability to earn income taken away and without basic necessities.

Palliative care services in the urban slum communities have not yet been developed, and this project is hoping to begin to address this enormous need, and to provide a model for future scale up and replication.

What are we going to do?

We will be taking a detailed look at the current situation in two urban slums, and the specific palliative care needs of older people and their carers in these communities.

This will enable us to plan and design the subsequent activities to effectively meet the need, in collaboration with the community directly.

The situation and needs analysis will provide the detail for the following framework of activities:

  • Running sensitisation programmes in the slums, to increase understanding and awareness of the need for palliative care.
  • Recruiting up to eight assistants from the slum community, and training them in palliative care. The assistants will be responsible for identifying people in need of palliative care and for providing basic palliative care in their homes.
  • Linking Palliative Care Nurses from the Centre for Palliative Care with the Community assistants to guide and mentor their activities.
  • Linking up with other community health workers, organisations and groups working in the slums to better meet the holistic needs identified.
  • Providing palliative care outreach services to at least 100 older people and their families in their homes.

The training – and subsequent delivery of palliative care – will be based on the Palliative Care Toolkit, a key resource for palliative care in resource poor settings.

It is our intention that this project provides an effective model of palliative care for older people within an urban slum. An external evaluation of the project will be conducted in one year’s time.

Who is doing the work?

The Centre for Palliative Care Bangladesh (at BSMMU) will be the lead implementing partner in the project, and the WHPCA will provide oversight, grant management and monitoring support. 

If you would like to know more about the project, please contact Kate North, Head of Programmes & Development, WHPCA, at

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