Cultural Challenges in Implementing Palliative Programs in Emerging Countries

Gulcin Senel and Michael Silbermann*

Cultural Challenges in Implementing Palliative Programs in Emerging Countries

Insuring the availability of palliative care has become an increasingly important global health priority in recent years. As population age and the prevalence of chronic illnesses increases in emerging countries, as in all other countries worldwide, the need for palliative care has risen significantly.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 40 million people require palliative care annually at the end-of-life.

One of the challenges of palliative care is to honor the personal wishes of culturally
diverse patients while meeting universal medical relief standards. Palliative care begins with
the understanding that every patient has his/her own story, relationships and culture, and is
worthy of respect as a unique individual.

Culture refers to common elements or characteristics within one’s sociological grouping.
Different values, beliefs, behaviours, languages, rituals, customs or traditions,
and accepted practices for living and dying, partnering, marriage, childbearing,
parenting, and family communal life creates cultural groupings.

Culture can include elements such as developmental stage of life, profession,
and educational level, geographic region of the country, religion, spirituality,
sexual orientation, political affiliation, gender, socioeconomic status, and more.

Palliative care is a relatively new concept in many countries in the developing world.
Health professionals and whole populations are unaware of palliative care.

Health care is not only providing cures, also improving
the quality of life of patients and patient’s families.

Palliative care is applicable during the onset of life-threatening illness.
A common misconception is that only terminal ill cancer patients are in need of palliative care.

By contrast, the hospice and palliative care movement has been providing
increasing awareness of various end-of-life issues.

Palliat Med Hosp Care Open J. 2017; SE(1): S1-S3. doi: 10.17140/PMHCOJ-SE-1-101