The importance of palliative care to improve the quality of life of patients and their families is one of the messages behind the 2018 Samoa Palliative Care Forum.
Opened at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, the Minister of Health Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, said anyone who suffers from a terminal illness deserves to die with dignity and minimal suffering.
He assured that the Government is committed to improving the level of palliative care in Samoa.
He said it is regarded as a blessing that Samoans tend to their sick elders with so much pride and care.
“Palliative care has been proven to prolong life as well as restoring quality of life,” he said.
He went on to say that the lack of access to palliative care is one of the biggest challenges in the world.
“Worldwide only 14 percent of people who need palliative care currently receive it with 78 percent of them living in low income countries.
“For children the situation is worse with even less access to palliative care and a much higher risk than adults to face inadequate pain relief measures that are available and present.
“The need for palliative care has never been greater in Samoa.
“It continues to grow with increase of chronic illnesses and people living to an old age. Despite this need in 2011 the study found that only 20 of the 22,034 countries studied had well integrated palliative care services.”
He also said Samoa was one of the 42% of countries that have no palliative care services at all.
“It is important that home care in the sense of providing some minimal level of support is not confused with the provision of palliative care.”
The Minister went on to say that the Forum is the first of many important steps that need to be taken to ensure that the people of Samoa are dying with comfort and with dignity.
“In May 2014 the world health sector passed its first palliative care resolution recognising palliative care as a human right and a state obligation,” he said.
“The resolution emphasizes that access to palliative care and pain relief is an element of the right to health and calls on all members states such as Samoa to integrate palliative care into health care systems and to improve funding and training.
“Since 2010 there has been discussion within Samoa to develop a coordinated approach to deliver palliative care and since this time there have been various training and programmes and workshops and all such great deal of discussions.
“The ongoing momentum has met that and now in 2018 there is increased knowledge to broader health community about what palliative care is.”
The Forum is being co-hosted by the Samoa Cancer Society (S.C.S) and the Ministry of Health.
It aims to help progress the development of a coordinated approach to delivering palliative care within Samoa.
The Forum is a platform to hear perspectives from all aspects of service provision and consumers, to look at strengths and opportunities and to seek a commitment from stakeholders to establish a working group to develop and implement National Palliative Care Guidelines for Samoa.
Themed “Palliative Care in Samoa: Everyone, Everywhere”, the forum also confirms that M.O.H. recognises the need to make palliative care accessible at primary and secondary level.