Home Health Hospic Malaysia Raising a voice for Palliative Care
Home Health Hospic Malaysia Raising a voice for Palliative Care

Raising a voice for Palliative Care

Hospis Malaysia commemorates 30th anniversary with Voices for Hospices, a biennial charity gala held in conjunction with World Hospice & Palliative Care Day (WHPCD)

Palliative care should be developed as a service that is embedded into every level of the healthcare system so that access to palliative care will be available anywhere and at any time – YB Khairy Jamaluddin

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, an estimated 56.8 million people, including 25.7 million people in their last year of life, are in need of palliative care. Unfortunately, only 14% of these currently receive the palliative care they need. This is among the dire health needs facing the world today - even in Malaysia. Since 1991, Hospis Malaysia has been a key driver for the development of palliative care in the country, providing evidence-based palliative care to patients and families, while supporting the nation through palliative care education, training and advocacy. However, as data suggests, the need for hospice and palliative care has been growing faster than people can access them.

Dato’ Kathleen Chew, Chairman of Hospis Malaysia delivering the welcoming speech

In conjunction with World Hospice and Palliative Care Day (WHPCD), Hospis Malaysia held its Voices for Hospices biennial charity gala dinner at The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur. Themed Healing Heart & Communities, this meaningful event also marks Hospis Malaysia’s 30 years of service to the nation with the hopes of improving the accessibility of palliative care for the country’s population. To support Hospis Malaysia’s operations, the gala dinner, attended by almost 700 people, including Caretaker Minister of Health, YB Khairy Jamaluddin, raised approximately RM500,000 nett.

“Malaysia has developed the National Palliative Care Policy and Strategic Plan 2019 - 2030, of which the vision is to provide compassionate care throughout the healthcare system. It is therefore our intention that through the joint efforts of the public sector, private sector, civil societies, and individual members of society, every Malaysian will have access to compassionate care that affords them comfort, support, and dignity in facing serious health-related issues at any level of the healthcare system,” said Khairy.

The event comes when the issue of the practice of palliative care and its provision is still not given enough prominence, despite its growing need given the escalating incidence of non-communicable diseases amongst Malaysians. As a result, most Malaysians lack the awareness, leaving many of them or their loved ones suffering from treatable pain, and other symptoms, and psycho-social distress resulting from the impact of a serious illness such as cancer, organ failure, HIV/AIDS and other degenerative neurological conditions.

YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Caretaker Minister of Health with Hospis Malaysia's patients, Mr Tiang Pin Ching

In a recent study by the Ministry of Health (MOH), based on the national mortality data, it is estimated that the number of people requiring palliative care will steadily rise to almost 250,000 by the year 2030.

“It saddens me to see the thousands of patients and their families not having access to palliative care in this country. There is so much that palliative care can offer. And if a patient is referred early enough for palliative care support, more can be done to improve the quality of life of the patients and their families. Palliative care focuses on the well-being of the person. Our practitioners will work alongside the patients’ family and their primary doctors who may be oncologists, heart, kidney or lung specialists, or neurologists and geriatricians to discuss the best possible way to support their patients in the later stages of their lives, as apart from the illness itself, most also experience pain and other symptoms, and significant emotional distress resulting from the diagnosis. Family members often are also affected, and support to enable them to provide caregiving and ability to cope with their loved one’s condition is also very important,” said Dato’ Kathleen Chew, Chairman of Hospis Malaysia.

L-R: Dr. Punitha Krishnan, Palliative Care Doctor; Nurse Norbazilah Johari; YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Caretaker Minister of Health; Hospis Malaysia patient, Mr Michael Tan and Dato' Kathleen Chew, Chairman of Hospis Malaysia on stage for the Luminaria ceremony

She added that the role of palliative care and Hospis Malaysia proved essential during the Covid-19 pandemic where most patients were advised to minimise hospital visits and to stay home to stay safe. “It was imperative that the work of Hospis Malaysia continued during that period. Our domiciliary service supported by our 24-hour emergency service proved to be a life-line for countless patients and their families who required support and medical attention at their homes,” she explained.

YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Caretaker Minister of Health with Hospis Malaysia's patients, Mr Michael Tan Peng Wan

Currently, Hospis Malaysia cares for about 1,700 patients per year with the help of 33 employees and a clinical team comprising of four doctors, 14 nurses, two pharmacists and one occupational therapist. The organisation also actively trains about 700 healthcare workers each year, with operating expenses running at about RM4.5 million per year, of which approximately 80% is spent on patient services, education and training.

YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Caretaker Minister of Health with Hospis Malaysia's patients, En Mohd Shukor Bin Kisan, with wife and son

Services provided by Hospis Malaysia include domiciliary palliative care, rehabilitation sessions, outpatient palliative care and 24-hour emergency call service. The organisation also provides education and training to undergraduate and post-graduate medical students, and workshops on various aspects of palliative care for doctors, nurses and other allied healthcare.

Ning Baizura captivated guests with a stellar performance as she took the stage to raise a voice for palliative care in Malaysia

Hospis Malaysia relies heavily on public donations and corporate grants from the private sector to provide the free patient service in the Klang Valley regardless of age, gender, culture, religion or social standing. This charitable organisation is also known to be a strong advocate for professional palliative care in Malaysia and has since built an impressive track record as a committed palliative care education and training provider in the country.

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