Understand what palliative care is


When medicine exhausts its efforts in fighting an illness, palliative care comes into play. They are part of an approach that does not aim to cure, but to offer the patient well-being, controlling physical and emotional symptoms.

Care crosses several medical specialties and includes nurses and social workers. Activated, these professionals understand death as a natural cycle, without anticipating or postponing it. The support also extends to the family, offering support from the diagnosis to the bereavement.

The concept of palliative care has been modernized in recent years. Before, treatment was understood as a follow-up when the patient has no alternative cure. Now, the WHO states that the monitoring of the patient’s needs and the reception of his family must be done from the diagnosis.

The method became a planning, no longer just a final care aimed at death.

In the United States, there are already end-of-life doulas, with a role similar to those who help pregnant women to give birth, but who are dedicated to the moment of death. They help seniors to fulfill final wishes, such as doing a specific activity or dying at home, offering emotional and spiritual support.

According to Daniel Forte, coordinator of the area at Hospital Sírio-Libanês and president of ANCP (National Academy of Palliative Care), studies also show that palliative care can increase the lifespan of patients.

Although indicated for patients in the terminal phase of various diseases, the palliative method is mostly applied to people with cancer. Especially in cases of metastasis, when the tumor leaves its origin and spreads to other parts of the body.

This is the case of Pelé, 82. Hospitalized since last Tuesday (29) at the Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, the star no longer responds to the chemotherapy treatment he had been undergoing since last September, when he was operated on for bowel cancer. At the beginning of the year, metastases in the intestine, lung and liver were diagnosed.

THE Sheet found out that he is in exclusive palliative care, receiving comfort measures to relieve pain and shortness of breath, for example, without being subjected to invasive therapies, such as chemotherapy.

Despite the WHO (World Health Organization) defending that palliative methods are treated as an urgent humanitarian need for people with serious illnesses, according to the ANCP, there are only 177 teams working in the area in Brazil, making access unequal.

More than half of the teams are in the Southeast. Of these, most are in the city of São Paulo. And, within the capital, most groups are in the region of Avenida Paulista, in the central region.

“Avenida Paulista has more palliative care teams than the North and Northeast”, says Daniel Forte, coordinator of the area at the Hospital Sírio-Libanês and president of the ANCP.

“Brazil has islands of excellence, but it also has a sea without this service. Our situation is worse than that of countries like Argentina, Uruguay and Zambia”, says Forte.

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