KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — The palliative care services in the country have been less than satisfactory and need immediate improvement, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad.
He said this was due to the lack of facilities, specialists and treatment centres, although the level of awareness of palliative care especially for children began to show improvement in line with the implementation of the National Pediatric Palliative Care Initiative in 2012.
He said according to the Quality of Death Index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2015, Malaysia ranked 38 out of 80 countries, behind other countries such as Mongolia, Uganda, South Africa, Cuba, Costa Rica and Jordan, in terms of palliative care services.
“This is very unsatisfactory as palliative care services are very important in providing a better quality of life especially for children with serious life-threatening illnesess,” he said when launching the MyStarfish, a charity programme under Paediatric Palliative Care Centre, Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (PPUM) here today.
Palliative care is a holistic approach that encompasses the physical, psychosocial and spiritual aspects aimed at reducing the suffering and improving the quality of life of patients by finding the best solution for physical, psychosocial and spiritual symptoms, he said.
Dzulkefly also said since the establishment of palliative care services at the PPUM Paediatric Department in 2017, the unit has received 146 referral cases, with 38 per cent of them were children suffering from cancer followed by those with neurological and genetic diseases.
“Hence, with the launch of MyStarfish, a charity programme founded by two paediatric specialists from the PPUM Paediatric Department, it will help meet the psychosocial, emotional and spiritual needs of the children receiving palliative care,” he said.
In a separate development, Dzulkefly, when met by reporters, said 3,792 notices were issued nationwide with 55,848 premises inspected until yesterday since the nationwide ban on smoking in eateries beginning January 1.
He said during the period, Johor recorded the highest number of notices at 479, followed by Selangor (474) and Pahang (438). — Bernama