‘Dying well is part of living well’







Health matters: 
Dr Lee (left) taking a closer look at the elephant sculptures after launching the ‘Speak Up – Because I Matter’ expo at Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur. Looking on are  Chew (centre) and sculptor 
Yusof Gajah.

Health matters: Dr Lee (left) taking a closer look at the elephant sculptures after launching the ‘Speak Up – Because I Matter’ expo at Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur. Looking on are Chew (centre) and sculptor Yusof Gajah.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is looking to expand its home care based palliative care services as part of its efforts to bring medical care right to the doorstep of patients, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.

“To date, 11 palliative care specialists have completed their training. Six public hospitals now have palliative care specialists,” he said.

This came about after the government recognised palliative care medicine as a medical subspecialty in 2008.

“We are expanding the services and through our health clinics we are providing home care based palliative care services apart from the usual home visit,” he said during the launch of Hospis Malaysia “Speak Up – Because I Matter” campaign in conjunction with Palliative Care Awareness Month yesterday.

(Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah was quoted in a recent news report about the “uberisation” of healthcare in which technology and innovation could lead to bringing healthcare back to the community where doctors are sent to see patients directly in their homes.)

Dr Lee said the government was expanding its palliative care services as it was cheaper to keep patients at home rather than in the hospital for a patient’s end of life care.

Such services were being done through the government’s health clinics he added.

Hospis Malaysia chairman Datin Kathleen Chew said at the launch there was a need to recognise that those at the end of life also matter just as much as those in their prime of life.

“To live well must include dying well and this is not wishful thinking.

“At Hospis Malaysia, we know it is possible that with appropriate support, dying does not have to be chaotic, fear ridden, and a painful experience. In fact, families can be well supported and death can even be meaningful,” she said.

Chew added that the development of a strong palliative care programme nationally would require the participation of many stakeholders such as policy makers, private and public service providers, training centres and the community to drive development and change.

The campaign features stories of patients with life-limiting illnesses as well as the work of palliative care practitioners and the importance of placing patients at the centre of any care plan.

The “Speak Up – Because I Matter” exhibition at the concourse level of Suria KLCC ends tomorrow.

Dr Lee Boon Chye