Life Asked Death Bangladesh World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2016

Like other countries, this year Bangladesh also celebrated World Hospice Palliative Care Day 2016, nationally. The program was organised by the ‘Bangladesh Medical Association’ at hotel ‘Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka’ in association with ‘Centre for Palliative Care (CPC) at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University’, ‘Ashic Foundation’, ‘Hospice Bangladesh’ and 10 more organisations. The program was organised nationally with the aim:

  1. to spread out the need of palliative care in the country
  2. to gather all the national organisations under one roof
  3. to attract the government and social media as well as the community

Cynthia Ruth Goh, Associate Professor and Senior Consultant of Department of Palliative Medicine, National Cancer Centre Singapore; President and Secretary of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA); Director General of National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT); Director General of Department of Narcotic Control (DNC) of Bangladesh were present in the program.

A Draft Working Report on ‘National Opioid Policy for Medical Uses in Bangladesh’ was handed over to DG Narcotic and he declared that, his department would increase the supply of morphine by the end of the October. Approximately 450 audiences were present in this celebration program. The premier show of ‘Life Asked Death’ video was the main attraction of the program.

Organisers also arranged a poster presentation and photo gallery corner. The photo gallery also attracted the audiences.

The moment when I watched the film,
I remembered some of those patients who came to CPC with severe pain.

Still now I remember one of my favourite patients Abdullah, 21 years old undergraduate student and was admitted to Centre for Palliative Care with severe pain. He was initially diagnosed with sarcoma of left knee 2 years ago, but despite many treatments the cancer had spread. Unfortunately oncologist told that there were no curative treatment options available and referred to him palliative care for pain management.

Many nights he could not sleep due to pain and after few hours of admission his pain had dramatically reduced to 3 from 9 in visual analogue pain scale when we gave him morphine. His mother was surprised and that night he slept pain free. So this film- ‘Life Asked Death’, which focused the patients suffering with pain and difficulty in morphine availability, accessibility and affordability, – touched probably most of the audiences present in the hall room.

There were many print and electronic media personnel present to cover the program. They highlighted the day in their newspapers as,

‘DNC to increase morphine supply for cancer patients’, (view article)

‘0.6 million people died without getting palliative treatment’,

‘Include palliative care to the National Health Policy’

‘Pain free treatment prior to death is available in Bangabandhu medical’ and so on.

Professor Nezamuddin Ahmad (Professor of Palliative Medicine and department head of Centre for Palliative Care, BSMMU) acknowledged in his closing speech Cynthia Goh, Magan Doherty (paediatric palliative care specialist in Canada) and Dr. Suresh Kumar (Consultant at Pain and Palliative Care Society, Calicut, Kerala, India) for their contribution in development of palliative care in Bangladesh. Everyone agreed in one point that, the time has begun to talk about palliative care, development of palliative care and focus on pain management.

Written by Mr Fazle Noor Biswas, a pharmacist with the Centre for Palliative Care at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Bangladesh.

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