Care for terminally ill cancer patients gets boost

Muscat, Sept 2 – Care for terminally ill cancer patients across the Sultanate has got a boost with the graduation of 360 Omani palliative care nurses from a public-private partnership training programme. The nurses on Sunday attended a special ceremony in Muscat under the auspices of Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, to mark their certification. The three-year programme has enabled the nurses to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families through a holistic approach, including pain prevention and relief.
The training was coordinated and implemented by Oman Cancer Association (OCA) in partnership with the Ministry of Health and funded by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO). Experts from globally recognised institutions, and under the umbrella of Middle East Cancer Consortium (MECC), Oncology Nurses Society (ONS) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), conducted the training.
Those who have qualified will be able to provide palliative care in a variety of clinical settings, including homes and hospitals, across the country.
According to the World Health Organization, “Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing 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.”
Palliative care for cancer patients in the Sultanate started at the National Oncology Centre in 2002.
However, Yuthar al Rawahi, a four-time cancer survivor and OCA founder and Honorary Life President, realised the need to further develop the management and care of terminally ill patients. As a result, a study in 2012 identified a requirement to train a minimum of 360 nurses in palliative cancer care to adequately cater to the country and provide primary healthcare physicians with international certification.
Immediate action was taken by OCA, with funding from PDO, and in partnership with the ministries of health and social development, to conduct palliative care training in line with standards laid down by top global institutions.
Dr Al Saeedi said: “The work of Oman Cancer Association and PDO has further catapulted palliative care in Oman forward with the certification of 360 Omani nurses.”
According to him, in 2013 the Ministry of Health asked Oman Cancer Association to be the focal point for training in palliative care programme.
The public private partnership programme successfully trained 360 hospital and community nurses and 20 primary care physicians in palliative care in Oman from April 2013 to February 2017.
The nurses are now internationally certified, and 50 of them underwent a ‘Train the Trainer’ certification programme and are currently coaching their colleagues in palliative care.
The curriculum consisted of basic and advanced palliative care certification followed by training in leadership and research, spirituality and patient care support.