Minister of Health, Donville Inniss (centre), listening to a presentation at the conference. At left is Consultant in Oncology and Palliative Care, Margaret Dingle Spence, while Chairman of the NCD Commission, Professor Trevor Hassell, is at right. (A. Gaskin/BGIS

Most persons in need of palliative care in Barbados suffer from one or more Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) or their complications.

This was pointed out by Chairman of the NCD Commission and President of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Professor Trevor Hassel, who said that was not surprising, since this group of diseases was the most common cause of sickness and death in Barbados and the region, accounting for more than six out of every 10 deaths and attracting the expenditure of more than 60 per cent of the health care budget. ??

He was at the time giving remarks at the 2nd Annual Barbados Association of Palliative Care workshop, held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, yesterday.

"The NCDs, though preventable by appropriate lifestyles, are however, despite best efforts, likely to continue for the foreseeable future to be the most common group of diseases requiring palliative care. Unfortunately, many persons continue to present with late stages of chronic disease. In addition, the natural history of poor adherence to treatment for chronic disease is progression to complications which include, for example: renal failure in diabetes, heart failure in hypertension, emphysema in smoking,?? [and] liver cancer in alcoholic cirrhosis," he explained.

Professor Hassell pointed out that it was necessary for persons involved in patient care, at every level of the care spectrum, to collaborate in order to ensure effective use of scarce resources to care for those who were terminally ill and to reduce pain and suffering through palliative treatment.?? Indicating that the Political Declaration

issued at the conclusion of the United Nations High Level Meeting on NCDs held last year, charged member countries to: pursue comprehensive strengthening of health systems with promotion of patient empowerment, rehabilitation and palliative care for persons with NCDs; increase and prioritise budgetary allocations for addressing and supporting palliative care of those with NCDs; give priority to?? preventive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative services particularly at the community level; and foster partnerships between government and civil society, to support?? palliative care ??of NCDs.

As the head of an umbrella civil society organisation, Professor Hassell invited the Barbados Association of Palliative Care to join the Healthy Caribbean Coalition to assist the region in bringing about a paradigm shift in palliative care.??

"One in which people are empowered and informed so that no-one should die alone and neglected or in settings where those responsible for their care are overwhelmed by the burden of it…One in which we do not abandon our sick, advanced elderly and our dying. For if we do not institute effective and comprehensive community palliative care, our hospitals will continuously be seen as ‘ the place that you go to die’, consuming government and family resources when terminally ill persons either remain in emergency departments or on wards for prolonged periods or they are sent back home without adequate family support. We in Barbados and the Caribbean can and must do better than this," he surmised.


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