Palliative Care in Moroccan Children with Cancer: What are the Parent’s and Children’s Needs?

Laila Hessissen* and Amina Kili

Palliative Care in Moroccan Children with Cancer: What are the Parent’s and Children’s Needs?

Palliative care has been well defined by the World Health Organization as a
comprehensive care approach which “improves the quality of life of patients and their
families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention
and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and
treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

Morocco is a North African country with a total population of 33 million, considered
as a middle-income country, ranked 126th out of 188 countries and territories in the Human
Development Index.

Paediatric oncology in Morocco was initiated about 30 years ago in
two general pediatric units sustained by parents’ associations.

To assess the needs of Moroccan terminally ill children and their families,
their parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire in a study conducted in
the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Institute of Rabat, Morocco.

We interviewed the parents of children who were in palliative care regarding physical
symptoms, psychosocial needs, and other issues related to death.

Some 80% of the parents interviewed were mothers, and the
children’s median age was 11 years (range 5 to 16).
Most of the cases underwent palliative care after a relapse.

The parents interviewed were aware of the disease status, and that the objective
had shifted from curing to relieving the symptoms and improving QoL.

We are one of the most important pediatric oncology
units in Morocco, dealing with about 300 new cases of pediatric
cancer per year.

Moreover, the lack of specialized palliative care
teams with adequate human resources and financing makes the
end-of-life situation a face-to-face interaction between the attending
doctor and the patient and his/her family.

Palliat Med Hosp Care Open J. 2017; SE(1): S56-S58. doi: 10.17140/PMHCOJ-SE-1-112