Sat, Oct 05, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Hospice, palliative care in spotlight

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Hospice and palliative therapies provide alternatives to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other drastic life-sustaining treatments, but less than 1 percent of the public have registered their preference for these alternatives on their National Health Insurance card when facing terminal illness, Taiwan Hospice Organization president Chiu Shih-che (邱世哲) said yesterday, while promoting the program launched in 2006.

Oct. 12 marks World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, which is celebrated in more than 70 countries around the world, said the Ministry of Health and Welfare, who has commissioned the hospice organization to run a toll-free hotline for questions about hospice and palliative care since March.

This theme of this year is “Achieving universal coverage of palliative care: dispelling the myths,” the health authority said.

It added that the major myths are that hospice and palliative care is just for people with cancer, that beginning hospice and palliative care means death is imminent and that palliative care manages pain through using addictive narcotics.

The government has since 2006 started to promote the signing — and registration on the NHI card — of the letter of intent to receive hospice and palliative care instead of CPR and life-sustaining treatment when terminally ill.

However, Chiu, who was present at yesterday’s event, said that the 177,180 people who have registered their intentions “ is less than 1 percent of the population.”

“There are patients with terminal disease of their brain, respiratory system, heart, kidneys or liver who are not fully aware of, or fully understand, hospice and palliative care,” he said, adding that much work needs to be done on introducing the program to this large group of terminally ill patients.

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