Frank Ferris, left, palliative care expert, and Hibah Osman, director of Balsam, speak during an interview with the Daily Star in Beirut, Friday, April 25, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Osman is the director of Balsam, a Lebanese center for palliative care, and also heads a newly established palliative care program at the American University of Beirut. She is also the first licensed palliative care physician in Lebanon. Palliative care is a relatively new medical discipline, steadily gaining traction in Lebanon. Ferris said that there was a sea change in Lebanon's attitude toward the discipline.Because palliative care is such a new discipline here, there are few physicians and nurses who can fill the void.The Health Ministry last year recognized palliative care as a medical discipline in Lebanon.Currently, insurance companies can deny coverage of medicine if the patient is transferred into palliative care, Osman said. Osman's organization, Balsam, provides free palliative care at home, where most people prefer to be treated. Ferris said it was important to recognize that palliative care wasn't just about caring for people who were dying.Data supports the belief that palliative care, combined with traditional medicine, could help people survive longer.
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