BMC Palliative Care (2020-11-01)

Advancing pediatric palliative care in a low-middle income country: an implementation study, a challenging but not impossible task

  • Ximena Garcia-Quintero,
  • Luis Gabriel Parra-Lara,
  • Angelica Claros-Hulbert,
  • Maria Isabel Cuervo-Suarez,
  • Wendy Gomez-Garcia,
  • Francois Desbrandes,
  • Natalia Arias-Casais

DOI
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12904-020-00674-2
Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19, no. 1
pp. 1 – 11

Abstract

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Abstract Background The disparities in access to pediatric palliative care and pain management in Latin America remains an unaddressed global health issue. Efforts to improve the development of Palliative Care (PC) provision have traditionally targeted services for adults, leaving the pediatric population unaddressed. Examples of such services are scarce and should be portrayed in scientific literature to inform decision-makers and service providers on models of care available to tackle the burden of Pediatric Palliative Care (PPC) in Low-and middle-income countries (LMIC). The purpose of this study is to describe the implementation of a pediatric palliative care program, “Taking Care of You” (TCY), in a tertiary care, university hospital in Cali, Colombia. Methods A program’s database was built with children between 0 to 18 years old and their families, from year 2017 to 2019. Descriptive analysis was carried out to evaluate the impact of the program and service delivery. A theory-based method was directed to describe the PPC program, according to the implementation of self-designed taxonomy, mapping theoretical levels and domains. Clinical outcomes in patients were included in the analysis. Results Since 2017 the program has provided PPC services to 1.965 children. Most of them had an oncologic diagnosis and were referred from hospitalization services (53%). The number of ambulatory patients increased by 80% every trimester between 2017 and 2018. A 50% increase was reported in hospitalization, emergency, and intensive care units during the same time period. Conclusions The program addressed a gap in the provision of PPC to children in Cali. It shows effective strategies used to implement a PPC program and how the referral times, coordination of care, communication with other hospital services were improved while providing compassionate/holistic care to children with life-limiting and threatening diseases and in end-of-life. The implementation of this program has required the onset of specific strategies and arrangements to promote awareness and education proving it a hard task, yet not impossible.

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