UK Aid Direct funded palliative care project launches in Bangladesh with strong community support

On 18 July, community members, local political leaders, international palliative care workers, and local healthcare professionals came together for the inaugural event of Compassionate Narayanganj, a community-based palliative care project in Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC), Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh people are living and dying with serious pain and suffering because there are so few hospice and palliative care services and essential palliative care is not included as part of Universal Health Coverage.

Compassionate Narayanganj is a project funded by UK Aid Direct to build a compassionate community to ensure people access the health care that they need when living with and dying from serious illness in the Naranyanganj City Corporation of Bangladesh.

The project aims to show how compassionate palliative care alleviates suffering, positively impacts people’s quality of life and is a cost effective and ethical imperative of health systems. It is crucial for achieving Universal Health Coverage – one of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed by all government in 2015.

The inaugural event was well attended with close to 150 people present, including community members, people affected by serious illness, the Vice-Chancellor of BSMMU – Professor Kanak Kanti Barua, and Dr Salina Hayat Ivy – Mayor of NCC.

Both the Vice Chancellor and the Mayor gave public support to the project.

Mayor Dr Salina Hayat Ivy, said: “Even in the affluent families there are people with serious diseases who are not taken care of. This project will look after them along with people with incurable diseases with financially disadvantaged group. NCC will provide all support to make the project successful.”

A group of volunteers trained by Narayanganj Palliative Care were in action at the event.

The volunteers, including youth from the local college, were on hand, assisting with logistics, welcoming guests, helping publicise the event through their personal social media accounts, and assisting with tidy up at the end.

40 people including nurses and doctors stayed on for a community palliative care sensitization workshop following the inauguration.

Professor Nezamuddin Ahmad, Head of the Department of Palliative Medicine at BSMMU; Dr Rubayat, a physician working at the Centre for Palliative Care; Dr Farzana Khan, Project Manager, and Dr Stephen Connor, Executive Director of the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance gave lectures on global palliative care, the situation in Bangladesh and the importance of community networks in addressing local palliative care needs.

Prof Ahmad said: “It is so encouraging to see the strong support for this important project, not only from political and academic leaders, but importantly from the community itself. I look forward to watching the compassionate community develop further to provide palliative care to all who need it in Narayanganj!”

The Compassionate Narayanganj project is funded by UK Aid from the British people.