GEORGE TOWN, Oct 13 — Palliative and hospice communities in Malaysia should create more voices about the importance of palliative care to the public, Deputy Ministry of Health (MoH) Lee Boon Chye said.
He said the ministry regarded palliative care as an important component of care that should be made available in all hospital and also at the level of community health care services.
“The objectives (for palliative care) are to provide comfort and necessary pain relief for the patient (before death) while maintaining their dignity, as well as to give psychosocial and spiritual support for both the patient and the family,” he said in his speech for the Charis Hospice 15th anniversary dinner here on Saturday.
He also said that the federal government would want to see more community involvement on informing and educating the essentials and benefits of palliative care to the public before setting a policy to make it a necessary medical treatment for all hospitals and clinics nationwide.
“I do understand that this top-down policy decision, to a certain extent, needs some leadership, but it should also be somehow democratised, where there would be two-way communication.
“It will not be enough just from the federal government, as it will be just as important for the community involvement in order for MOH to provide seamless care for the patients and their families,” he added.
Meanwhile, Charis Hospice Board of Directors (BOD) chairman Lee Khai said that palliative care would help minimise emotional distress for the patient and families and would allow them to reduce stress from unnecessary hospital visits, as the treatment could be done at home.
However, Lee addressed the high social stigma related to palliative care and death in Malaysia and prefer to sidestep the conversation.
“All of us will inevitably die, but this taboo has negative consequences, including denying a patient the opportunity to prepare for death,” he said.