This innovative project is funded by UK Aid Direct. We aim 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 Narayanganj City Corporation of 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.
This project aims to address this by providing a model of care in one Bangladesh city which shows 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 UK is the place where modern hospice and palliative care began and has a strong hospice movement and a comprehensive national health service. The UK aims to ensure that adults and children with serious illness such as cancer, dementia and heart conditions can access the palliative care they need and that it is free at the point of use.
Narayanganj Palliative Care – Building a Compassionate Community in Bangladesh Working Towards Universal Health Coverage, has now been running for 3 years in partnership with the Department of Palliative Medicine at BSMMU, and funded by UK Aid from the British people. The Narayanganj City Corporation has provided a space for the project outpatient clinic and office to run from. The initial project funding has now come to an end, but we intend to keep the services running by raising support for their continuation.
This community home-based palliative care service, with a focus on women and girls, has provided home based care for over 300 patients and supported over 1100 family members. The support is tailored to the individual's needs and includes physical, social, psychological and spiritual support. There is a team of trained palliative care assistants who make home visits to the patients. When needed, the project nurse and doctors also visit the patients in their homes.
71 year old Fulkumari was referred to our service two years ago. She was partially bed-bound and thought she would never recover. She was very worried and wanted to be able to help her daughter-in-law with the chores. After some time, and support from the programme, with the right care and medication, she has now improved and is able to walk on her own.
“Thank you so much for giving me a completely new life. You have helped me a lot. Always be by my side. I always pray for your team. I wish you could stand by the people in this way.”(Fulkumari)
As part of the project we have also raised awareness of what palliative care is with a wide range of people and groups in Narayanganj, and more recently have included information on Covid-19. We have reached over 8,000 community members through various events and activities. This had led to the creation of a Narayanganj Palliative Care Society - made up of volunteers who are promoting awareness of palliative care as well as supporting patients.
UK Aid Direct's leadership in supporting this innovative approach in Bangladesh will show how palliative care is an essential part of a good health system, how it alleviates suffering and is a cost effective and critical part of Universal Health Coverage within Bangladesh.