In 2020 during the crisis of COVID-19 pandemic on the eve of World Hospice Palliative Care Day 2020”, Hospice Bangladesh”, Aastha Foundation and World Child Cancer (WCC) jointly organized a series of virtual awareness program. In 2020, the proposed theme of this day is “Palliative Care: it’s “My Care, My Comfort”.

Hospice Bangladesh tried to celebrate the day to keep the restriction of mass gathering in this COVID-19 crisis. The program was designed for 3 days making into different segment.

This program is designed especially for doctors, nurses, volunteers, family care givers to encourage them, to motivate them as they play very important role in patient care.

After the morning program at evening of same day, another important session was held on this grand occasion. It was the program for the volunteers of Palliative Care. Shaila Ahmed was the moderator of this virtual discussion program. Members of standing committee of Aastha foundation – Dr. Rifat Akhter, Dr. Sazia Afrin, Samina Afrin, Nadia Hossain and Safia Choudhury were present and discussed on various issues regarding the role of volunteer in Palliative Care. In every non-profit organization or project, volunteers always play vital role. Palliative Care is a multidisciplinary approach where role of volunteer is crucial to provide holistic support to ensure quality life for patients. But in Bangladesh the number of volunteer not only in Palliative Care but also in other area is very limited in compare to actual demand. DR. Rifat Akhter, president of Aastha Foundation  told that this crisis may be due to the cultural effect. She also said that through various awareness program if we can increase overall volunteer in Bangladesh, it will help to increase volunteer in palliative care. If teachers emphacise service learning along with regular academic learning , it will motivate student to work as volunteer in various sector. Samina Afrin, Secretary of Aastha Foundation answered in a question of Shaila Ahmed that to retain volunteer different workshop, seminar should be arranged to engage and motivate them. She also told that volunteers are the backbone of palliative care, so we have to increase and motivate our young generation to work as volunteer in palliative care. She discussed about different strategies about how we can engage our young generation in palliative care. Dr. Sazia afrin, Treasurer of Aastha Foundation talked on how the volunteer can increase the acceptance of palliative care. She told that by increasing awareness among community people, by sharing, different workshop we can increase the acceptance of palliative care. They also discussed on various important issues regarding volunteer and palliative care like fund raising issue etc. 

For the first time on the occasion of World Hospice Palliative Care Day 2020, Dr. Cynthia Goh, Chair APHN, Singapore was with us. Dr. Shahinur Kabir took her interview. In this short interview she talked in various point on how she started her journey in palliative care, which things motivated her. She also told in her answer that to increase more professionals involvement, they should be feel honoured to work and paying should be enough to attract. She told that staff should be felt that they are valued which will always motivate them.

Dr. Cynthia was asked a question that whether palliative care should be payment basis or full free or subsidized and she answered very nicely that it depends on the situation and system of the country. It may be any of this but important matter is that the service should be sustainable with right level and best quality.

At evening of 10th October Dr. Shahinur Kabir introduced the World Child Cancer (WCC), an UK based charity organization working for pediatric oncology as well as for palliative care development in Bangladesh. In that program three important person who are working for WCC answered different questions and shared their present work and future plan to develop palliative care in Bangladesh.

Joseph Dixon, Senior Program Manager answered how WCC is facilitating pediatric oncology as well as palliative care development in Bangladesh. Mr. Jewel, Program Coordinator, WCC shortly answered about the present activities of WCC in Bangladesh. He said that WCC is working with a vision to increase the awareness, to remove myth regarding childhood cancer , to provide financial support for patient family not only at Dhaka but also to remote area of Bangladesh. Mr Jewel also shared that WCC has a big plan to set up common treatment protocol for pediatric oncology through making network with different Government Medical college hospital and private organization with the help of technical and logistic support of this International Organization. WCC is also working to create effective data about childhood cancer and palliative care so that it can be used in advocacy regarding problem and solution of pediatric cancer and palliative care to approach at Government level in Bangladesh-said by Mr Jewel.

Dr. Megan Doherty, Project Lead Children Palliative Care Initiatives in Bangladesh (CPCIB)shared her working experience to set up CPCIB project and developed a supportive network to ensure the holistic support for a children cancer patient. She explained as a physician that how it is important to get palliative care for a child cancer patient. At the same time it is important to have enough training for a professionals who is supporting such patients and Dr. Megan told that how WCC is supporting different educational training program in Bangladesh and at abroad to develop their skill. Mr. Joseph said about their running project in Bangladesh. He said that working with different big institution and organization both public and private through making effective network is a big challenge. Still they are working for creating and maintaining this network. Dr. Megan said that in her experience she observed that significant change has been made in the development of palliative care in Bangladesh. WCC is still working and hopeful about pediatric palliative as well as all over palliative care development in Bangladesh.