Palliative care is a growing area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. In 2005, ASHIC Foundation was the only parent-run organization out of 14 projects worldwide to receive funding for the country’s first palliative care unit. Funded by a UICC/ sanofi-aventis initiative, the ASHIC PCU is designed to provide end-of-life care for the terminally ill children living with cancer in Bangladesh. Due to the importance of the program in developing countries where opporunities for quality curative treatment are often severely limited, the ASHIC PCU has been spotlighted as a replicable model for other developing nations.
One of the big challenges in a country like Bangladesh is that many of the families come to the city for the specialized treatment (Dhaka) from far-flung villages and for the terminally ill, the parents would prefer to bury their child close to their home. Transporting a child who has already passed away is significantly more expensive than a child who may be critically ill. As such, ASHIC designed the PCU program with the recognition that it is necessary to teach parents effective methods of palliative care they can practice in the comforts of their home during the last days of the child’s life. This is quite different than the Western model where a Symptom Care Team or Hospice Team will step in at home or at a hospice to provide the end of life care.
Any child coming to the PCU is kept for a minimum of 3 days, where every effort is made to train the parents to care for the child at home. Once they are sent home, the parents have access to the medical staff at ASHIC PCU via phone or through visits by ASHIC social workers.
The PCU has a high operating cost as it is staffed by round the clock doctors and nurses, stocked with necessary medication for pain management and equipment necessary to help patients who are close to their last breath.
In the last 7 years, the PCU has helped more than 500 children have a more peaceful end to their life than they would otherwise have had.
You can support this program for a cost of $300 per bed per month.