REMBAU, Oct 1 — Malaysia requires an estimated 218 palliative specialists, which is an important component of health protection and primary healthcare as stated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
He said the target was to have a total of 70 palliative specialists in the country by 2030.
“In Malaysia, it is estimated that a total of 150,000 adult patients require palliative treatment. Although palliative services have grown in the country, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is only able to cover around 10-15 per cent of the total number of people treated.
“For now, there are only 19 palliative specialists, with an additional 32 trainee medical specialists for the treatment in the country,” he said at the launching of the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2022 at the Rembau Hospital here today.
Also present were MOH secretary-general Datuk Harjeet Singh, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and National Palliative Services head Dr Richard Lim Boon Leong.
Khairy said the event, themed Healing Hearts and Communities, was aimed more at the aspects of recovery and emotional support for family members and the community when dealing with patients and during the phase after the loss of a loved one.
He explained that palliative treatment is really necessary considering the rising number of Malaysians facing terminal illnesses, adding that treatment was not just focused on helping the patients, but also on providing support to family members in facing the final phase of their loved ones’ lives.
He said that for the past three decades, a total of 30 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had helped channel palliative care services to patients’ homes nationwide.
“Beginning from this year, most state hospitals have resident palliative specialists. As for Perlis, Terengganu and Kelantan, palliative medical services will be expanded by 2025,” he said.
In a bid to increase palliative services in the country, Khairy said the MOH also implemented a strategy to ensure the palliative treatment is not focused on hospitals only but also on primary health, namely health clinics and also home treatment.
“There are many cases of patients and family members choosing to return to their homes, they choose to get treated in their own homes as they deal with the last stages of their lives.
“So, that’s why under our strategy, we not only enhance at the hospital level by increasing the number of specialists and nurses but also provide increased access to those who are at home,” he said.