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  • Author: Queenie R. Ridulme x
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Loyda Amor N. Cajucom, Rita C. Ramos, Raymund Kernell B. Mañago, Raya Kathreen T. Fuentes, Primo G. Garcia, Queenie R. Ridulme, Myra DP. Oruga and Maria Joanna G. Viñas

Background: Around 200,000 pediatric clients are diagnosed with cancer each year globally. Majority (84%) of cancer cases are found in developing countries with 20% average survival rate (Ferlay et al, 2012). Two-thirds of pediatric oncology clients in the Philippines are diagnosed at advanced stages (Lecciones, 2015). Abandonment of treatment is high at 80%. Only about 10%–20% of clients attain long-term survival despite availability of multidisciplinary management. These outcomes reflect the gap in service delivery for pediatric oncology clients (Ferlay et al, 2012). Therefore, to improve accessibility to healthcare, it is necessary to determine the perceived palliative care needs of clients, their caregivers, and healthcare providers. Objective: To identify the availability of palliative care services in the country, identify barriers in service delivery, and determine the palliative care needs of pediatric oncology clients, their caregivers, and healthcare providers. Methods: The descriptive, cross-sectional study design involved a situational analysis by mapping 2 Philippine palliative centers. Focus group discussions (FGD) and interviews with healthcare professionals were conducted to determine the extent of services, geographical coverage, and perceived palliative care needs. The needs assessment tool by WHO (2004) was adopted to identify the palliative care needs of pediatric oncology clients as perceived by caregivers. Results: From a total of 181 primary caregivers, the identified main problems in caring was the economical (95.6%) aspect. Financial support (92%) was the most pressing need. Caregivers would like to learn more about general cancer care (39%) and nutrition counseling (24%). The most common palliative care needs as perceived by caregivers included accessibility to cancer facility (27%), free cancer medications (12.7%), and financial assistance (14.9%). The common barriers in rendering care were financial constraints (66%), behavioral changes (12.7%), and travel limitations (6%). The common themes found during the FGDs and interviews were: (1) inadequate human and structural health resources; (2) need to focus on psychosocial care; (3) addressing economic constraints; and (4) need to increase cancer awareness among caregivers. Conclusion: The findings of the study documented the need for the development of structured programs for pediatric palliative care in the Philippines.