Sarawak to be first Malaysian training ground in palliative care


Dr Choo (second row, second left) in a group photo with APHN chairman and Hospis Malaysia chief executive officer Dr Ednin Hamzah (second row, left), Lee (third row, second left), and the APHN, Lien Foundation team during a scoping visit to Siburan Health Clinic last year.

KUCHING (March 29): Sarawak marked another milestone after being selected as the first state in the country to be the training ground for doctors and nurses in palliative care.

Fifty doctors, the majority of whom are from Sarawak, will receive their training at Lien Collaborative Workshop next month, which is an international collaboration with Asia Pacific Hospice & Palliative Care Network (APHN) and Singapore’s philanthropic group Lien Foundation.

Project manager Dr Sharon Choo said the state had sent a detailed proposal for this collaboration as Sarawak has a vision to become a centre of excellence for palliative care.

“The entire APHN team including Lien Foundation chief executive officer Lee Poh Wah visited Sarawak for a scoping visit before deciding to confirm this collaboration, last year,” she told The Borneo Post.

She said Sarawak was chosen as there are local champions of palliative care from hospitals and non-governmental organisations such as the National Cancer Society (Sarawak branch), Two Tree Lodge Hospice and Life Care Society.

“There is also an increasing awareness of palliative care with more patients, families and doctors asking for this service,” she said.

She added that the Sarawak government has been supportive in the development of palliative care with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian representing the government, and APHN and Lien Foundation scheduled for next month.

”Apart from that, State Health director Dr Ooi Choo Huck has also initiated the statewide domiciliary palliative care training and workshop.

“This is in accordance with Malaysia Palliative Care Strategy and Policy Plan to develop palliative care in hospitals and in the community,” she said.

On the programme, Dr Choo, who is the sole palliative care consultant in Sarawak, said doctors selected for the programme have to be committed and complete all three modules to become ‘master trainers’.

“Their commitment is for three years with Module 1 starting in April, followed by Module 2 in September and Module 3 in April next year,” she said.

For the selection process, 12 health clinic teams (one from each division in Sarawak) are chosen after a discussion with their respective divisional health officer and state Health Department.

“There are also three hospital teams selected, namely Sarawak General Hospital, Sibu Hospital and Miri Hospital with selections made after discussion with their respective palliative care leads, head matrons and hospital directors.

“We have looked into details that the selected participants would be able to serve the community in Sarawak. Therefore, even if a physician from Peninsular Malaysia is holding the palliative care portfolio in Miri Hospital, she is not selected as a Lien Collaborative Workshop participant but instead chose a doctor from Miri to be trained,” she said.

She said the aim is to allow Sarawakians to benefit from this international collaboration via training and education.

“These ‘master trainers’ will be able to train other health staff in their respective hospitals and divisions, to ensure sustainable palliative care services,” said Dr Choo.

Dr Choo (eighth left) together with the APHN and Lien Foundation teams in a group photo with Dr Sim during a courtesy call on the Deputy Premier at his office last year.