Background and Context:
As cancer rates climb in Viet Nam, an urgent need for palliative care (PC) services has emerged, since most cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage. Actually, access to PC services remains very limited nationwide.
The Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital (HCMCOH), one of the biggest cancer centers in VN has pioneered in developing this area. Many challenges must be overcome: lack of PC training and education for health care providers, fear of opioid use among health professionals....
Analyze the current status of palliative care services for cancer patients at HCMCOH
In 2009 the first analysis showed that only 15-20% health professionals using opioid as medication for pain control, and almost physicians are not awared of the role of PC as well as how to use opioid properly. So training and education should be prioritized.
Since 2009, the training programs have been organized annually for caregivers. This program has been supported by Dr. Eric L. Krakauer, Head of International Programs at the Harvard Medical School Center for PC.
Outcomes/What was learned:
As a result, the first department of PC in HCM City was opened at HCMCOH in January, 2011, followed by PC department at Tropical Disease Hospital (June, 2013), and at Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital ( September, 2013). A recent analysis showed that opioid use becomes standard in pain relief, and most trained physicians are awared of PC as one of critical components of cancer care. Since September, 2011 a home care program has been also initiated and has provided effective pain control for end of life cancer patients who want to stay home.
Going forward, a project of creating palliative medicine at the HCM City medical schools, and providing training and education of palliative care to physicians at district level hospitals is ongoing.