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Royal boost for palliative care in M’sia

Publication Date : 12-09-2012


Prince William and Kate Middleton's upcoming visit is set to shine a long overdue spotlight on the relatively unknown area of palliative care in Malaysia.

The Duchess of Cambridge, now known as Catherine, will make her first public speech outside the United Kingdom at Hospis Malaysia, the country's largest palliative care centre, during their September 13-15 visit to the country.

Palliative care focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of all patients while hospice care is usually for dying patients.

Hospis Malaysia chief executive officer/medical director Dr Ednin Hamzah said Catherine's speech would be a “very significant” affirmation about the importance of palliative care.

“We are very proud at being chosen. The presence of two significant members of the British royal family is a recognition of palliative care that we have not seen here before,” he said.

However, he said details of the visit were “completely secret” and the planned programme would be unveiled only tomorrow.

Dr Ednin expressed hope that the royal visit would create awareness about palliative care not just among the public, but more importantly, within the medical fraternity.

He said its general awareness was still poor, with even doctors not really comprehending the concept.

He stressed that palliative care should not be viewed as a last resort, which is only sought when all other avenues have been exhausted.

“Palliative care gives a lot of hope,” he said.

“The system focuses on the person, not the disease. Palliative care is also about looking after the person's family as well as his or her caregivers.”

Dr Ednin added that palliative care involved treatment which included counselling, medication and therapy.

He said Hospis Malaysia was founded in 1991 and had since relied solely on donations to offer free services to its patients, as well as pay staff salaries and other operating costs which amount to 3 million ringgit (US$974,500) a year.

Dr Ednin added that finances and human resource issues posed a constant challenge.

“We are caring for about 400 patients and we offer this care at their homes,” he said.

“We have a full-time staff of about 30 people, including 12 nurses, four doctors and a physiotherapist and pharmacist,” he added.


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