Expanding Palliative Care Services in Mongolia through Monaco Assistance

5 March 2012

With a population of less than 3 million people spread out over a territory of 1.5 million km2, harsh winters, remote rural areas and sparse health care facilities, Mongolia is a land of many challenges. One of the greatest problems facing the country is the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, which is the second leading cause of mortality.

Considering that, like many other low and middle income countries, 80% of cancers in Mongolia are diagnosed in advanced stages when cure is no longer possible, providing good and accessible palliative care has become a priority, especially as palliative care is necessary for alleviating pain and reducing suffering. However, administering such care is a major endeavour as, although two thirds of Mongolians live in the country's provinces, district hospitals have no specialized staff able to provide palliative care services. Undertaking a 3–4 day journey to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, where the only cancer centre in the country is located, presents a significant financial and psychological burden to cancer patients and their families.

To increase access to palliative care across the country, the Government of Mongolia presented a project proposal to PACT for “Improving Palliative Care Services in Mongolia”, to be funded by the Principality of Monaco. It is expected that the project will contribute to advancing the quality and accessibility of palliative care services in the country by decentralizing services from the National Cancer Center (NCC) and, therefore, facilitating the access to provincial and district palliative care units.

A tripartite Agreement between the IAEA, the Principality of Monaco and the Government of Mongolia was signed on 14 February 2012 at the IAEA by the Ambassador of Mongolia, HE Jargalsaikhan Enkhsaikhan, the Ambassador of Monaco, HE Mr Claude Giordan and Ms Meera Ventakesh, acting Deputy Director General of the IAEA and acting Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications to earmark €125 000 for the implementation of the project. The total project funding requirements are around €600 000. PACT is seeking additional donors to enable the Mongolian Government to fully implement this vital project.