Development of palliative care services at a tertiary care teaching hospital in Pakistan: Retrospective analysis of existing palliative care program

Document Type



Emergency Medicine; Haematology/Oncology


Context: Palliative care (PC) is an important aspect of providing holistic care to patients and their families who are dealing with a serious or life limiting illness. Medical community and public poorly understand the implications and benefits of these services. Unfortunately, because of this, PC remains a neglected area of healthcare in the most institutions of Pakistan.
Objectives: We sought to review the current structure, barriers in context of growing need for PC, possible means to overcome these challenges and future perspectives at tertiary care hospital.
Methods: Retrospective longitudinal cross-sectional study was done using data from 2017 to 2019 in the section of PC at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH).
Results: PC program has been self-sustainable and serving 3747 patients in 2017-2019. The results show that palliative care services (PCS) are well integrated for oncology with all three models of PCS delivery. Most of the patients opted for comfort code during hospital stay and preferred end-of-life-care at home. We received less referral from outside the hospital and other specialties but received more self-referrals surprisingly. Home-based-palliative-care was also a key aspect of the program. PCS providing quality of care and nearly reaching target goal of quality indicators.
Conclusion: The enormous burden of life-threatening illnesses is associated with physical and psychosocial sufferings, which explains the illustrious need for PC in developing countries such as Pakistan. PCS at AKUH initiated in 2017. Nevertheless, there are challenges to service expansion and progress, which are being addressed.


Volume, issue, and pagination are not provided by the author/publisher

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of pain and symptom management