Cultural Challenges in Implementing Palliative Care Services In Iraq

Hasanein H. Ghali*

Cultural Challenges in Implementing Palliative Care Services In Iraq

Culturally compatible palliative care presupposes understanding of that culture’s perspectives
of cancer and death. Iraq is a culturally diverse country with different perspectives towards
cancer and death.

The concept of palliative care among Iraqi people and patients is primitive;
the majority of them have no idea what palliative care is about. As long as there is no national
palliative care program – most of the medical health care providers themselves are also not
familiar with palliative care – it is not more than a terminology they had read about during
under- and postgraduate course if this ever happened.

The strength of the palliative care field in this country lies in the area of culture,
religion and psychosocial entities. Yet, negative impacts also exist in the same culture.
Health care in Iraq has witnessed remarkable regression in the last three decades parallel with political and economic troubles, struggling to provide basic diagnostic and therapeutic facilities.

Hence, the idea of palliative care seems to be ‘’luxurious’’ in these bad circumstances.
Those in power and decision makers may think in this way: ‘’budget
from Ministry of Health or from NGOs is to be spent on buying essential medicine rather than
improving the quality of life (QoL) or decreasing the suffering of patients’’.

Community awareness is very important and even within the medical community palliative care terminology is
still embryonic and limited to part of the oncology medicine.

Palliat Med Hosp Care Open J. 2017; SE(1): S19-S23. doi: 10.17140/PMHCOJ-SE-1-105