While great strides have been made in improving childhood mortality, millions of children die each year with significant health-related suffering. More than 98% of these children live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Efforts have been made to increase access to pediatric palliative care (PPC) services to address this suffering in LMICs through policy measures, educational initiatives, and access to essential medicines. However, a core component of high-quality PPC that has been relatively neglected in LMICs is grief and bereavement support for parents after the death of their child. This paper reviews the current literature on parental grief and bereavement in LMICs. This includes describing bereavement research in high-income countries (HICs), including its definition, adverse effect upon parents, and supportive interventions, followed by a review of the literature on health-related grief and bereavement in LMICs, specifically around: perinatal death, infant mortality, infectious disease, interventions used, and perceived need. More research is needed in grief and bereavement of parents in LMICs to provide them with the support they deserve within their specific cultural, social, and religious context. Additionally, these efforts in LMICs will help advance the field of parental grief and bereavement research as a whole.
Individuals in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) account for approximately two-thirds of cancer deaths worldwide, and the vast majority of these deaths occur without access to essential palliative care (PC). Although resource-stratified guidelines are being developed that take into account the actual resources available within a given country, and several components of PC are available within health care systems, PC will never improve without a trained workforce. The design and implementation of PC provider training programs is the lynchpin for ensuring that all seriously ill patients have access to quality PC services. Building on the Breast Health Global Initiative's resource-stratified recommendations for provider education in PC, the authors report on efforts by the Jamaica Cancer Care and Research Institute in the Caribbean and the Universidad Católica in successfully developing and implementing PC training programs in the Caribbean and Latin America, respectively. Key aspects of this approach include: 1) fostering strategic academic partnerships to bring additional expertise and support to the effort; 2) careful adaptation of the curriculum to the local context and culture; 3) early identification of feasible metrics to facilitate program evaluation and future outcomes research; and 4) designing PC training programs to meet local health system needs.
BACKGROUND: Despite the significant benefits of palliative care (PC) services for cancer patients, multiple challenges hinder the provision of PC services for these patients. Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are witnessing a sharp growth in the burden of non-communicable diseases. There is a significant gap between demand and supply of PC in LMICs in current health services. This review aims to synthesise evidence from previous reviews and deliver a more comprehensive mapping of the existing literature about personal, system, policy, and organisational challenges and possible facilitators on the provision of PC services for cancer patients in LMICs.
METHODS: A systematic review of reviews was performed following PRISMA guidelines. PubMed, EMBASE, SCOPUS, PsycINFO, Web of Sciences, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library databases were searched to identify review papers published between 2000 and 2018 that considered challenges and possible facilitators to PC provision. A modified socioecological model was used as a framework for analysing and summarising findings.
RESULTS: Fourteen reviews were included. The reviews varied in terms of aim, settings, and detail of the challenges and possible facilitators. The main challenges of personal and health care systems included knowledge deficits and misunderstandings from patients, families, the general public, and health care providers about PC; and inadequate number of trained workforce. Besides, limited physical infrastructure, insufficient drugs for symptom relief and lack of a comprehensive national plan for implementing PC were the core organisational and policy level challenges that were recognised. Furthermore, the main possible facilitators that were identified included provision of adequate training for health care providers and health education for patients, families and the general public to enhance their knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes to PC. Finally, involvement of policymakers and making drugs available for symptom relief should also be in place to improve the health care systems.
CONCLUSIONS: Understanding challenges to the provision of PC for people with cancer could help in the development of a PC pathway in LMICs. This knowledge could be used as a guide to develop an intervention programme to improve PC. Political influence and support are also required to ensure the sustainability and the provision of high-quality PC.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought a tsunami of suffering that is devastating even well resourced countries. The disease has wreaked havoc on health systems and generated immense losses for families, communities, and economies, in addition to the growing death toll. Patients, caregivers, health-care providers, and health systems can benefit from the extensive knowledge of the palliative care community and by taking heed of long-standing admonitions to improve access to essential medicines, particularly opioids for the relief of breathlessness and pain.
Although palliative care as a discipline in high income countries is maturing, it is still somewhat in its infancy in sub-Saharan Africa, an area where this type of care is needed the most: more than 80% of people in urgent need of palliative care live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We will describe why the development of palliative care in LMICs is increasingly essential, and how it is currently still underdeveloped. In this manuscript, we discuss the challenges in organizing palliative care in LMICs in regard to the four WHO palliative care pillars: policy, education, medication, and implementation. We will illustrate how several Sub-Saharan African countries are increasingly able to provide palliative care analyzed in terms of these pillars. Ultimately, scientific research and cost-effectiveness analyses of well-developed palliative programs, should encourage both local and international governments and au-thorities to provide more capital and human recourses for palliative care in the future.
BACKGROUND: Despite recognition that palliative care is an essential component of any humanitarian response, serious illness-related suffering continues to be pervasive in these settings. There is very limited evidence about the need for palliative care and symptom relief to guide the implementation of programs to alleviate the burden of serious illness-related suffering in these settings. A basic package of essential medications and supplies can provide pain relief and palliative care; however, the practical availability of these items has not been assessed. This study aimed to describe the illness-related suffering and need for palliative care in Rohingya refugees and caregivers in Bangladesh.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: Between November 20 and 24, 2017, we conducted a cross-sectional study of individuals with serious health problems (n = 156, 53% male) and caregivers (n = 155, 69% female) living in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, using convenience sampling to recruit participants at the community level (i.e., going house to house to identify eligible individuals). The serious health problems, recent healthcare experiences, need for medications and medical supplies, and basic needs of participants were explored through interviews with trained Rohingya community members, using an interview guide that had been piloted with Rohingya individuals to ensure it reflected the specificities of their refugee experience and culture. The most common diagnoses were significant physical disabilities (n = 100, 64.1%), treatment-resistant tuberculosis (TB) (n = 32, 20.5%), cancer (n = 15, 9.6%), and HIV infection (n = 3, 1.9%). Many individuals with serious health problems were experiencing significant pain (62%, n = 96), and pain treatments were largely ineffective (70%, n = 58). The average age was 44.8 years (range 2-100 years) for those with serious health problems and 34.9 years (range 8-75 years) for caregivers. Caregivers reported providing an average of 13.8 hours of care per day. Sleep difficulties (87.1%, n = 108), lack of appetite (58.1%, n = 72), and lack of pleasure in life (53.2%, n = 66) were the most commonly reported problems related to the caregiving role. The main limitations of this study were the use of convenience sampling and closed-ended interview questioning.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study we found that many individuals with serious health problems experienced significant physical, emotional, and social suffering due to a lack of access to pain and symptom relief and other essential components of palliative care. Humanitarian responses should develop and incorporate palliative care and symptom relief strategies that address the needs of all people with serious illness-related suffering and their caregivers.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care (PC) for patients with malignant hematological diseases is scarcely documented, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This study aimed to document PC provided to patients with hematologic malignancies.
METHODS: Bidirectional study conducted from July 2016 to June 2019 at the hematology and palliative care departments at a reference center in Northeast Mexico for low-income open population uninsured patients. Clinical records and electronic files of patients with malignant hematological diseases of both sexes and all ages attending an academic hematology center were reviewed. Statistical analysis was performed with the SPSS version 22 program. Acute and chronic leukemias, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and others were included.
RESULTS: Five-hundred ten patients were studied, of which 148 (29%) died. Eighty-one (15.88%) patients including 31 (20.9%) who died received PC. Median age at palliative diagnosis was 42 (2-91) years. The most common symptom was pain (69.7%). The most frequent reason for palliative referral was treatment-refractory disease (39%). During the last week of life, 19 (95%) of 20 patients had blood sampling; 17 (85%) received antibiotics; 16 (80%) had a urinalysis performed; 16 (80%) received analgesia, including paracetamol (11, 35.5%) and buprenorphine (7, 22.6%); 10 (50%) received blood products; 9 (45%) were intubated; and central venous catheters were inserted in 5 (25%) patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative care was provided to a minority of patients with hematologic malignancies and considerable improvement is required in its timely use and extension.
OBJECTIVE: Evidence of the role of palliative care to reduce financial hardship and to support wellbeing in low/middle-income countries (LMIC) is growing, though standardised tools to capture relevant economic data are limited. We describe the development of the Patient-and-Carer Cancer Cost Survey (PaCCCt survey) which can be used to gather data on healthcare use and out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE) in households affected by cancer in LMIC.
METHODS: To identify relevant content qualitative data were gathered using Photovoice to detail concepts of wellbeing and cost areas of importance in households receiving palliative care in Blantyre, Malawi. Existing approaches and tools used to capture OOPE were mapped through a review of the literature. The WHO tuberculosis patient cost survey was chosen for adaptation. Face and content validity of a zero-draft of the PaCCCt survey were developed through review by healthcare professionals and a national stakeholder group. The final survey was translated into local language (Chichewa) and piloted.
RESULTS: The PaCCCt survey is a tablet-based, third-party administered survey recording healthcare service utilisation and related direct and indirect costs. Coping strategies (loans and dissaving and so on), funeral costs and wellbeing at household level are included. Completion time is <30 min.
CONCLUSION: The PaCCCt survey can be used as part of economic evaluations in populations in need of palliative care in LMIC. Such evidence can support calls for the inclusion of palliative care within Universal Health Coverage which requires end-user protection from financial hardship.
Death, disease and disaster can inflict anyone, anywhere and at any time. While occurrence of such an event could be absolved of any selective strike, the outcome reflects otherwise. Historical deprivations experienced by certain populations have caused more bereavement and sorrow to them than those who have experienced lesser or no deprivation. Therefore, the process which shapes the factors to yield such a result is important and needs to be understood for any policy suggestions and programmatic inputs. Loss of pregnancy and newborn inflicts sorrow and bereavement across space, time and social labyrinth. The degree of bereavement is likely to reduce with time, but space and social context govern the response to it. Therefore, factors contributing to the differentials vary in their demographic, social and economic characteristics. The loss of pregnancy and newborn remains inadequately addressed. Family and community play a significant role in coping. While the developed countries have institutional structure to address coping with the loss, the South Asian countries rely heavily on the family and the community for such support. The present review examines these trajectories across social groups.
Background: Early specialized palliative care improves quality of life of patients with advanced cancer, and guidelines encourage its integration into standard oncology care. However, many patients fail to obtain timely palliative/supportive care evaluations, particularly in limited-resource settings. We aimed to determine the proportion of patients with advanced cancer who received an assessment of symptoms and were referred to supportive and palliative care services during the first year after diagnosis in a Mexican hospital.
Methods: Individuals with newly diagnosed advanced solid tumors and 1 year of follow-up at the oncology clinics in the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Medicas y Nutricion Salvador Zubiran in Mexico City from October 2015 to April 2016 were included in this retrospective study.
Results: Seventy-seven patients were included. Forty-two (54.5%) were referred to the various supportive care services during the first year after diagnosis, and 23 (29.8%) were referred to the palliative care clinic. The most commonly assessed symptoms by oncologists were pain (77.9%), anorexia (74.0%), fatigue (68.8%), and nausea (55.8%), while depression/anxiety were evaluated in 10 (12.9%) patients. The oncologist offered to clarify treatment goals in 39 (50.6%) cases and evaluated the understanding of diagnosis/illness and prognosis in 22 (28.5%).
Conclusion: Palliative and supportive care services were widely underutilized, which may be related to a lack of standardized symptom assessments and poor end-of-life communication. Novel strategies are needed to improve the implementation of tools for systematic symptom assessment and to optimize the integration of supportive care interventions into oncology care in developing countries.
BACKGROUND: The state of palliative care research is closely linked to the development of palliative care services in a country or region.
OBJECTIVE: To systematically review the current state of palliative care research in the Asia Pacific region and analyze its relationship with the performance of each country in the region on the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2015 Quality of Death Index.
DESIGN: Systematic review and bibliographic analysis in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis Protocol 2015 (PRISMA-P).
DATA SOURCES: The PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, SCOPUS, CINAHL, and PsychiNFO databases were searched on February 4, 2018.
RESULTS: One thousand six hundred sixty-seven articles were reviewed. Eighteen out of 32 countries in the region published research. Around 74.15% (1236) of the articles were produced by high-income countries. Research output (articles per 1 m population) was closely linked to country performance on the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2015 Quality of Death Index (adjusted R2= 0.85). Palliative care research in the region is overwhelmingly focused on cancer (80.13% of articles reviewed). The most common themes of research were “palliative care service (24.45%)” and “clinical” (15.38%).
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative care research in the region is growing but remains largely centered on the high-income countries, with many low- and middle-income countries having little published research output. Much work is required to drive research in these countries to generate the evidence required for the development of palliative care services. The emphasis on cancer in research also indicates that the needs of patients suffering from noncancer-related diseases may be neglected.
AIM: To study to what extent tumor-specific treatment (chemo- or radiotherapy) was given during the last 30 days in life and to examine how many of the patients were referred to a specialized palliative care unit (PCU), at a low-resource governmental hospital in India.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Medical records of adult cancer patients deceased between April 1 and May 31 in 2016, and pediatric cancer patients deceased between April 1 and September 30 in 2016 were collected. Data regarding gender, age at admission, cancer diagnosis, tumor-specific treatment received, referral to the PCU, and date of death, were sampled.
RESULTS: A total of 96 patients (52 adults and 44 pediatric patients) were included in the study. In the last 30 days of life, tumor-specific treatment was given to 39 adult patients and 38 pediatric patients. During the last week in life, 26 adult and 25 pediatric patients, respectively, received tumor-specific treatment. Twenty-six adult and 25 pediatric patients, respectively, were referred to the PCU. End-of-life (EoL) tumor therapy was given to a lesser extent among referred patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Eighty percent of the patients were given tumor-specific treatment near EoL. Half of the patients had been referred for specialized palliative care (SPC).
Like many of Malawi’s population of 17 million, Mary lives in a thatched hut, with access to water via a borehole in the village. She has no electricity and cooks using firewood inside her house. In February 2016, Mary starts to develop vaginal discharge and lower abdominal pain.