As Jordan's population becomes increasingly older and non-communicable diseases such as cancer become increasingly predominant as part of the nation's epidemiological profile, a considerable number of people will be left to suffer because of the strain on available resources and gaps in current healthcare services. The success of a recent palliative care initiative in Jordan illustrates the feasibility and potency of palliative care for those suffering from grave medical conditions. "Wellness House" is a group therapy program that intentionally uses palliative care to promote healing and inner peace for those with cancer. This effort was funded by USAID and spearheaded by the Jordanian Palliative Care Society. The JCPS is a pioneer organization in Jordan that strives to build palliative care capacity in Jordan through:
- developing sustainable infrastructure to support palliative care
- crafting monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure care is standardized, of the highest quality, and available to all
- promoting education and training in palliative care for healthcare providers through specialized workshops and training
- enhancing the general public's understanding about what palliative care is and what it can do
- providing supportive psychosocial and spiritual services to patients with chronic illness and their families through a "Wellness House" program
"Wellness House" is a program designed to provide integrated support for cancer patients through providing group therapy sessions to patients and their families that were directly grounded in the concept of palliative care. This is the only instance of group therapy available for cancer patients in Jordan, and one of the few opportunities to receive group therapy at all.
The project received funding from USAID to operate from 2015 to 2016. The purpose of this trial period was to evaluate the efficacy of such an endeavor in securing the wellbeing of Jordanian patients and their families struggling to adjust to life-limiting illness. For ease of development and evaluation of the pilot program, group therapy was offered specifically for patients with cancer and their families. The project was executed through the coordinated efforts of specialized doctors and a group of volunteers in Jordan. Most individuals involved are proudly affiliated with the Jordanian Society for Palliative Care and Pain Treatment.
Palliative care can be transformative. For patients in the Wellness House program, this was achieved through receiving weekly group therapy and applying lessons about spiritual wellness in their daily lives. The program was only made possible through the support of external and international agencies. The opportunity to participate was limited to those who live in Amman and could utilize professional or social networks to learn about the program. Apathy and ignorance on the part of policymakers and the public indirectly rob individuals of their human right to health through impeding the development and implementation of such restorative programs throughout the country. These attitudes must be actively combatted so that this can be a reality for all individuals faced with life-threatening or life-limiting illness. If we understand health to encompass the totality of our humanity, to be deprived of the possibility of maximizing quality of life is a human rights violation that is unequivocally unacceptable.