Friday, June 14, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Investing in compassion

Addressing Bangladesh’s growing need for end-of-life care training and facilities

Update : 21 May 2024, 11:34 AM

Bangladesh’s healthcare landscape is in the midst of a significant evolution, driven by the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases and an aging population. This demographic shift has led to an increased demand for palliative and end-of-life care services, highlighting the critical need for skilled healthcare professionals in this specialized field. 

However, the shortage of nurses trained in palliative care presents a significant obstacle to meeting this demand. Furthermore, the absence of dedicated palliative care courses within the existing healthcare education system exacerbates this shortage.Consequently, individuals facing life-limiting illnesses often do not receive the specialized care they require during their final stages. 

Despite advancements in palliative care services in Bangladesh, significant fragmentation persists, resulting in an uneven distribution of these critical services across the nation. This fragmentation is particularly pronounced in rural areas, where access to palliative care remains scarce or nonexistent. Consequently, patients and their families in these underserved regions often endure end-of-life care without the essential support and resources they desperately need. 

The lack of comprehensive palliative care coverage exacerbates the already challenging circumstances faced by individuals dealing with life-limiting illnesses, underscoring the urgent need for concerted efforts to address disparities and ensure equitable access to palliative care services across all regions of Bangladesh. Its diverse cultural landscape poses unique challenges in providing end-of-life care. Varying cultural beliefs and practices surrounding death and dying necessitate healthcare professionals to navigate these sensitivities with empathy and cultural competence. 

Our healthcare system grapples with resource constraints, including shortages of medical supplies, facilities, and trained personnel. Given this context, maximizing nurses’ capacity to deliver quality palliative care becomes imperative. 

As Bangladesh continues to prioritize strengthening its primary healthcare system, the integration of palliative care into primary care services emerges as a crucial endeavour. Providing nurses with the necessary competencies to detect and address palliative care needs early in the disease trajectory holds promise for enhancing patient outcomes and overall quality of life. 

Through targeted training and education, we can lay the foundation for a healthcare system that provides compassionate and effective care to individuals and families navigating life-limiting illnesses and aging-related challenges

The scarcity of trained nurses specializing in palliative or end-of-life care in Bangladesh presents a significant challenge deeply rooted in the deficiencies of the current healthcare education system. The absence of dedicated courses focusing on palliative care within nursing education programs has contributed to a notable shortage of qualified professionals in this vital field. 

Consequently, patients confronting life-limiting illnesses often face a lack of specialized care and support during their final stages of life. Mitigating this shortage of trained nurses necessitates the integration of a comprehensive palliative care curriculum into nursing education. This strategic initiative is crucial to ensure that individuals and their families receive the compassionate and skilled care they require during such challenging times.

As the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes continues to rise, so does the demand for specialized care to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients nearing the end of their journey. 

Additionally, with Bangladesh’s demographic landscape shifting towards an older population, there is an increased likelihood of individuals requiring palliative care services to address age-related illnesses and conditions. 

Thus, equipping healthcare professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage complex end-of-life situations becomes imperative in meeting the evolving healthcare needs of the population and ensuring dignified and compassionate care for all individuals facing terminal illnesses. 

Through targeted training and education, we can lay the foundation for a healthcare system that provides compassionate and effective care to individuals and families navigating life-limiting illnesses and aging-related challenges.


Sumit Banik is a Public Health Activist and Trainer. Email: [email protected].

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