Results of a New Study about Palliative Care in Georgia

11 Oct, 2013

According to a new study the average number of potential beneficiaries of palliative care in Georgia is 839 children aged 0-15, which is about 107.7 children per 100,000 population aged up to 15.

The study has been conducted with the support from the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF). It aims to analyze palliative care services in Georgia, which will contribute to the development of palliative care programs for children. The authors of the study explored the number of children in need of palliative care, existing services and the availability and amount of state financing.

Different approaches have been used to count the number of children with palliative care needs in the study. The number 839 includes neonatal deaths (0-28 days) either.

“It should be noted that palliative care in the neonatal period is not required much, because the newborns that are in a critical condition receive medical treatment in respective units. Therefore, according to these estimations, it is not necessary to take into account the children of that age when planning palliative care services’, says Ivdity Chikovani, the author of the research.

It is estimated that around 1/3 of people with life-threatening illnesses need specialized palliative care at a certain age of their life. Patients may receive palliative care at hospices or at home. Therefore at one period of time at least 15-20 children need palliative care at a special institution (hospice).

“One of the myths about palliative care is that it is only for old people. This is not true. We do not like to think that children may also need palliative care, but we cannot ignore the fact that people of all ages can develop a life limiting illness. Therefore a special institution, the so-called hospice must be created, where both children and adolescents will get relief from their pain as well as spiritual and psychological support. For the past several years we have actively worked to make sure that a building for a children’s palliative care institution will be provided by the state. As part of the first stage, we conducted a study to identify the number of children in need of palliative care a year and the type of currently available services. The OSGF will provide support in human resource training, financing of children treatment and generally operation of a hospice by 2015,’ said Nino Kiknadze of the OSGF.

Palliative care development started in Georgia in 1998 with the support from the OSGF. Currently there are two palliative care institutions, the so-called hospices in Tbilisi, they provide service basically for adult patients. One of them operates at the Cancer Prevention Center, while the second one at the Peristsvaleba Convent. Home-based palliative care is also available. The OSGF has worked hard lately to support palliative care services and programs for children. This study is one of the first steps made in this direction.

Palliative Care represents a multi-profile care, focusing primarily on the relief of pain and providing social, psychological and spiritual support. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of patients with terminal diseases.