Going the extra mile for children with cancer in Bangladesh

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) – A non-profit organisation in Bangladesh goes an extra mile to make sure that children cancer patients, who have no cure, get the comfort while they are alive.

Rohan let out frequent shrieks of pain, his eyes fixed on the ceiling with teardrops rolling down on the pillow. Curtains were drawn, lights switched off. The ceiling fan was on full speed and his mother was rubbing his arms and legs, waiting for the morphine to kick in.

This was the third time since June 11 that the teenager was brought to the palliative care unit of ASHIC, a non-profit focussing on childhood cancer since 1994, in Bangladesh capital’s Dhanmondi.

Doctors at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka had referred the 14-year-old to this facility, having seen no response to chemotherapy and other curative treatment.

ASHIC sent its ambulance to the hospital to bring the child to its palliative care facility, a service provided under a recently launched scheme – “Mobile Palliative Care Clinic”. In short, ASHIC calls it Mobile PCC.

In the last two weeks, Rohan went home in Mirpur twice only to be brought back within days to ASHIC’s palliative unit. – THE DAILY STAR/ANN

A cure is not possible in the case of Rohan but it is necessary for his parents to understand that the time he has left can be more peaceful than if he were left uncared for, said founder chairperson of ASHIC (A Shelter for Helpless Ill Children) Salma Choudhury.

The organisation has been using a grant of USD50,000 from a United States (US) technology company for instilling the philosophy of palliative care in parents, doctors and others who may play a significant role in the treatment of terminally-ill children.

With the fund from NVIDIA Foundation, ASHIC bought the ambulance to provide transportation services to patients inside the capital for free.

In the last two weeks, Rohan went home in Mirpur twice only to be brought back within days to ASHIC’s palliative unit. Like him, other children are shuttled between home and the facility considering their health condition and at the same time accommodating their wishes. They are also transported from hospitals.

The service is available round the clock.