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Availability and Affordability of Essential Palliative Care Medicines in Nepal

Updated: May 10

We are excited to reveal that the first journal article from our UK Aid Match Sunita work has been published.

Thanks to supporters of EMMS International's appeal and the doubling of donations by the UK government, Sunita was launched in April 2022. Now entering its third year, the work sets up and monitors dedicated palliative care services in the country’s most rural, hard-to-reach areas and relieves the burden on young carers, so that they can continue to go to school. So far, the project has trained more than 530 community volunteers and 367 healthcare workers. EMMS International and the McClay Foundation have also funded a dedicated wing and palliative care centre of excellence at the Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara, which is run by INF Nepal.

Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara, Nepal

As well as a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists, the Palliative Care Department has dedicated space and trained staff to help palliative care patients and families who are experiencing challenges to their emotional well-being and mental health.

Aaditya before his accident

25-year-old Aaditya is from a remote village in northern Nepal. He suffered a high-level spinal cord injury after a motorbike accident. He is bed-bound with severe pressure sores. He and his family are now being cared for by the Palliative Care team at Green Pastures Hospital. His father says:

“With the Palliative Care Multidisciplinary Team’s support, my son can move his hands, sit a on wheelchair, and eat his meal with smile. He is even enjoying music which has made us think that our son's overall health condition has changed significantly... His mother's psychological pain is being addressed by our Palliative Care Counselling Team and this has boosted her confidence. The care providers have increased my son’s and his family’s courage.”

Aaditya with his father at the Green Pastures Hospital

With the help of partners, we are building strong evidence to help the Government to roll out a national palliative care strategy.

In 2017 the government of Nepal adopted a National Strategy for Palliative Care, which proposed that Essential Palliative Care Medicines should be available at each healthcare institution. The article features in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, and details the work of INF's Dr Daniel Munday and colleagues in their evaluation of the inclusion of these medicines in national programmes, their availability and affordability.

All seven palliative care services with which we work have the necessary pain relief available to patients. However, the research finds that many medicines are still not available or affordable to those who most need them across Nepal, and recommends improvements to ensure palliative care patients in health centres, particularly in rural areas, have access to the support they need.

Sunita continues apace and we thank our supporters for their ongoing commitment, so that together we can improve health inequalities in Nepal to ensure that non-communicable disease patients and their families receive vital medicines and ongoing healthcare.


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