Malaysia lacks palliative care specialists

30 Sep 2022 09:30am
More than 100,000 patients require palliative care. Photo 123RF. Thumbnail: Dr Hayati
More than 100,000 patients require palliative care. Photo 123RF. Thumbnail: Dr Hayati

SHAH ALAM - Malaysia needs more palliative care specialists to focus on improving the quality of life of patients facing chronic diseases.

Sunway Medical Centre's Consultant Palliative Medicine and Internal Medicine, Dr Hayati Yaakup said the country lacks palliative care specialists to cover the needs of patients.

"The number of specialists at the moment are inadequate and most of them are in urban areas in Kuala Lumpur and Seremban.

"Some places do not even have palliative care specialists whereas the number of patients especially cancer patients is increasing every year.

"Not all patients are in Kuala Lumpur or urban areas. They also need to return to their homes for example in the village, but it is quite difficult to get support in rural areas," she said.

She said some rural health clinics do not have qualified staff to help care for patients at home. .

Dr Hayati explained that the care not only involves the patient but also the caregiver and the problems they face.

"We take care of all aspects of the patient, including food, liquid, symptoms and family. If the caregiver is sick, who will take care of the patient?" she asked.
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The need to increase the number of training programmes for doctors and nurses in the field was echoed by former Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad in 2019.

Meanwhile, Dr Dzulkefly said the need for palliative care is crucial in Malaysia.

"More experts in this field are needed to improve the integration of palliative care services so that they are in line with the current healthcare system," he explained.