S’pore team on palliative care project in Myanmar

cyhthia goh

For the first time, doctors and nurses in Myanmar are being trained on how to help their terminally ill die with dignity and the minimum possible pain.

A group of 27 doctors, nurses and medical social workers from 11 hospitals in Myanmar received training from five palliative care specialists from Singapore and Australia who flew in last week.

It is part of a $1.8 million initiative by the Lien Foundation to build expertise in palliative care in four Asian countries over the next four years, starting with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Singapore’s Lien Foundation partnered Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and the Myanmar Medical Association (MMA) through the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network (APHN) to launch the project at Yangon General Hospital last Monday.

The Myanmar project was led by APHN chairman Cynthia Goh and Singapore Hospice Council president R. Akhileswaran.

The team’s one-week training stints will be held twice a year for the next three years.

Public hospitals in Myanmar do not have specialised palliative care units and doctors are not trained in it. “With only two privately-run 40-bedded hospices in Myanmar serving a population of 55 million, that is grossly insufficient,” said Dr Akhileswaran.

Yet good palliative care does not require expensive machines but simply well-trained medical staff, said Mr Lee Poh Wah, chief executive of the Lien Foundation.

“It is a necessity, not a luxury, that can be provided even with limited resources,” he added.

The doctors being trained are leaders in their fields who will train others. They will learn how to recognise and manage pain and symptoms of the terminally ill.

The team also teaches them how to help patients die well by ensuring they have social, psychological and spiritual support.

One trainee, radiation oncologist Wah Wah Myint Zu, 38, said: “I want to reduce their suffering holistically. It is my dream to set up a palliative care unit in my hospital.”

See more at: http://yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/spore-team-palliative-care-project-myanmar#sthash.aZlzfzQg.dpuf

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