Introducing an Organization of Palliative Care in Sichuan University
Sichuan is the largest and developing province in China , with a population of over 98 million. There are 330,000 medical units at all levels; there are 190,000 beds which complement the medical services for the whole province; there are 310,000 health professionals providing medical services.
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan and has a population of 12 million. It is the largest city in southwest China . Medical Central (formerly West China University of Medical Sciences) of Sichuan University has 7 colleges with about 15 thousand medical students. There are six university hospitals with over 6000 beds in total.
The pioneer work of Palliative Medicine in Sichuan of China and the practice unit
With the progress of Gerontology /Geriatrics programs, the Chinese Medical Board (CMB) in Chengdu sent a doctor named Dr. Jinxiang Li to the United Kingdom to learn palliative care in May 1995. He studied under Dr. Robert Twycross in Sir Michael Sobell House, and received a lot of support from the Oxford International Centre for Palliative Cancer Care (OICPC).
Since 1997, three additional medical staff were supported by OICPC and were sent to Sir Michael Sobell House. They are Dr. Jin Wu (1997), Dr. Yuenlin Yang (1998) and Miss Shenmei Lai (1998). They are now the pioneers in the development of Palliative Medicine in Sichuan of China and form the base team of palliative care in Chengdu.
In 1996, after Dr. Jinxiang Li returned to China he began his first palliative medicine team in Chengdu and set up a clinical practice unit in his hospital. In 1996, Dr. Li established 7 beds for the practice of palliative care in the department of Geriatrics in the fourth University Hospital, West China University of Medical Sciences (WCUMS), and in 1997 expanded it to 10 beds with a team of 2 doctors and three nurses.
In October, 2004 a unit (a hospice) with 22 beds was founded and a special team of 4 doctors and 6 nurses formed. We have provided the services not only to the patients with advanced cancer, but also to the patients with other terminal illnesses such as motor neuron disease, dementia, renal failure, post-stroke, COPD, heart failure and high aged person (>90). There are always 30 patients needing admission to these 22 hospice beds.
These early accomplishments were performed by pioneers who have been promoting the development of palliative medicine in Sichuan of China.
Dr. Jinxiang Li
Director Palliative Care Program
Editor’s Note: The formulary for these practice units lists the following opioids:
MST 30mg (sulphate) / a tablet, morphine 10mg for injection
TD fentanyl 25mg, 50mg/ patch, and injection preparation.
tramadol 50mg, 100mg / a tablet
pethidine 50mg 100mg for injection
codeine 8mg tablet
oxycodone 10mg / a tablet
naloxone 0.4mg for injection
Additionally, there is a very large selection of adjuvant medications for pain and symptom control.