Dr Lim (centre) is seen during a photo call with National Cancer Society of Malaysia Sarawak branch chairman Dr Lam Chin Chyou (right) and Palliative Care Association of Miri president Dr Loh Yunn Hua.
MIRI: Sarawak has no doctors specialising in palliative care at present.
Malaysian Hospice Council chairman Dr Richard Lim, who is Ministry of Health palliative care national advisor, said currently there are only 18 specialists in palliative care nationwide.
“We started to train these specialists since 2005 but still we are short of them. Out of this figure none are in Sarawak,” he said following a talk on cancer and palliative care yesterday.
“We are hoping that many doctors who are already general medicine specialists will take up our three-year sub-speciality, which is palliative care, so we could have at least one specialist in each state in the country in the near future.”
He blamed the shortage of specialists in Malaysia for the lack of understanding of what palliative care entails.
“Many people do not understand what palliative care is all about. They think of it as if the patients are dying and that nothing can be done to cure them.
“The truth is palliative care is about focusing on life, helping people to live their life until the very end and that is what important,” he said.
Dr Lim pointed out that despite the lack of specialists, there are 27 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) nationwide providing palliative care to those suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer.
“There are four in Sarawak, where out of this number one is in Miri. Miri is very fortunate to have the Palliative Care Association of Miri that provides free services and nurses that go to patients’ houses to give them moral support and counselling, which aims at improving their quality of life,” he said.
He revealed that the ministry is working to develop palliative care services within health clinics, including those in rural areas.
“Many of NGOs involved in palliative care are set up in urban cities while those in rural areas find it hard to get the support that they need from these NGOs. Many doctors and nurses who are based in rural areas are also not well-equipped with knowledge.
“Therefore we hope that our plan to develop palliative care services within the government health clinics, including those in rural areas, would one day help us to help patients in rural areas not just in Sarawak but throughout Malaysia,” he said.
He stressed that everyone needs to understand palliative care to ensure those who need help can be given the necessary treatment to reduce their depression, fear and anxiety from the illness they are suffering from.
End with photo myy-bp250516-jls-palliativecare-p1 Dr Lim (centre) is seen during a photo call with National Cancer Society of Malaysia Sarawak branch chairman Dr Lam Chin Chyou (right) and Palliative Care Association of Miri president Dr Loh Yunn Hua.