What is Palliative Care and how can it help the patient, let Pacific Cross give more information about this method for you.
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people living with a serious illness. This type of care is focused on relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
More than 90% of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will survive at least five years. This shrinks to 15% if the disease is diagnosed in the late stage according to Cancer Research UK.
In Vietnam cancer is often detected late. Approximately 105,000-150,000 annual cases diagnosed in Vietnam are late-stage cancer. This leaves survival chances very low. Due to these unfortunate numbers, many patients in Vietnam suffer through their last days, or in some cases, their last years. The need for palliative care wards and programs in Vietnam is real.
However, despite encouragement from government ministries as far back as 2006, there are currently only 13 hospitals or clinics which include palliative care services. Three of these are the HCMC Oncology Hospital, The HCMC University Medical Centre and Ca Mau General Hospital.
Palliative care aims to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from deadly diseases. It focuses on reducing pain while increasing comfort and dignity. In some studies, it has even been shown to prolong life according to the ranking report below.
The Economist Intelligent Unit compiles an annual global ranking report on end-of-life quality referred to as the “Quality of Death Index”. In the 2015 report, Vietnam lay in 58th place. The UK tops the list. Palliative care is integrated throughout the UK’s National Health Service and patients can also receive services in their homes, which eases the burden on hospitals and clinics.
In Vietnam, the HCMC University Medical Centre has about 30 beds in its palliative care ward. However, home based treatment is not yet provided. The Medical Centre intends to begin a program of this nature in the near future.
A home based treatment program has been underway at the HCMC Oncology Hospital since 2011 and similar models are starting up across the country, but numbers are still low.
In Ca Mau, Dr. To Minh Nghi, head of Ca Mau General Hospital’s oncology ward, studied palliative care practice in England. He is putting his studies to work in Ca Mau by training the provinces health officials in palliative care. They, in turn, can deliver services to patients both at the hospital and in their homes. This service relieves strain on patients who travel great distances for treatment, some 50% of which are from rural areas according to Dr. Nghi. It also decreases demand for beds at the hospital, which makes things easier there too.
Because of the high demand for beds in the hospital, the palliative care program in Ca Mau has allowed for some terminally ill patients to be discharged, receive care at home, and spend their final days with family members said Dr Nghi.
Palliative care is still a relatively new concept in Vietnam, but as the demand for hospital beds continues to swell, and the value of end-of-life comfort is realized by more and more people, it is quite likely these programs will continue to appear across the country in the not so distant future.