Palliative care services to be available in all district-level hospitals in 2023

The traditional medicine-based palliative care services being piloted in Gidakom, Haa, Paro, Mongar ERRH and Wangduechholing hospitals is being planned to be given in all the district-level hospitals in the country this year.

An official from the Department of Traditional Medicine said the palliative care services offer an alternative choice of care for terminal patients to reduce pain and improve the quality of life in the final days.

The services offer pain and symptom management for patients with advanced illnesses, and emotional support and counselling for those patients requiring assistance in everyday living.

However, the palliative care packages are customized according to the patient’s needs, such as a patient during cancer treatments and post-cancer treatments will be provided with traditional therapies such as relaxation massage, trigger release, cupping, moxa, hot and cold compression, and acupuncture.

The package will not only consist of traditional medicine therapies, but also mental coaching based on Buddhist philosophies and Zhey Ney (meditation) for calming one’s mind. This would play a significant role in calming patients, and preparing them for the inevitable and final moment of their lives

The team comprises doctors and nurses from the palliative care unit at JDWNRH and drungtshos and menpas from various units of the Traditional Medicine Hospital.

It has been observed that many patients opt for traditional medicine for post-treatment therapies after going through major surgeries, such as cancer treatment and organ transplants. Traditional medicine therapies have proven to be effective for both physical and mental relaxation. It has also been commonly used for pain management in palliative care in many other countries.

As the combination of the two systems has more benefits towards the symptomatic patients, Her Majesty the Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck commanded the integration of the traditional medicine services for palliative care, said the official.

Currently, there are about 45 cancer patients receiving palliative care in Thimphu on an appointment basis, and all the patients who are receiving the services have provided positive feedback, so far, the official added.

A patient needs to register with the palliative care team after a referral from the treating doctors. Bhutan Cancer Society works closely with Traditional Medicine Hospital to support the financially deprived patients and families during the long treatment phases at JDWNRH.

Initially, palliative care was started as a pilot project for a duration of 3 months in 2018 for patients living in and around Thimphu by the hospital administration. After the completion of the pilot period, a feedback assessment form from the caregivers was reviewed and the report received was very encouraging. With this feedback, home-based palliative care was continued by a team of doctors and nurses till date.

The official also highlighted that currently, palliative care services lack funds, equipment and transportation. Despite these challenges, the center has been providing palliative care services to patients.

Her Royal Highness Princess Kesang Wangmo Wangchuck launched the “Palliative Care” service package at the National Traditional Medicine Hospital, Department of Traditional Medicine Services on 27 November 2020.

Check Also

TB and alcohol-related liver diseases remain top health concerns in Annual Health Bulletin 2024

Ministry of Health’s latest Annual Health Bulletin Report 2024, reveals health challenges and advancements that …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *