Providing Culturally Sensitive Palliative Care in the Desert-The Experience, the Need, the Challenges, and the Solution

Yoram Singer, Bosmat Rotem, Sa'id Alsana, Pesach Shvartzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Bedouin population of the Negev region in Israel consists of 180,000 Muslims, half of whom live in six townships. The other half is dispersed in small temporary settlements (huts, tents) with no running water or electricity. Accessibility is quite difficult, with no paved roads or any form of motorized public transportation. For patients with advanced illnesses near the end of life, adequate palliative treatment is not available in their rural homestead. A mobile palliative care unit (MPCU) has been established, with the aims of delivering palliative care to terminal patients living in remote regions not easily accessible to the community health care teams and to provide palliative care consultation services to the local primary care teams. The mobile unit consists of a core team of a nurse, a social worker, a physician, and a Bedouin driver-interpreter/translator. The MPCU cares for about 30 patients at any given time, including four to six Bedouins living in rural homesteads, four to six Bedouins living in townships, and the remainder Jewish patients living in the surrounding settlements. One hundred patients were cared for and about 1800 home visits were conducted during the past year, including 15% by the whole mobile unit team, 15% by the physician alone, 25% by the nurse alone, and 25% by the unit's nurse together with the local primary clinic nurse. The average distance covered per home visit was around 70 km. Our experience in establishing a culturally sensitive MPCU can be a model to provide palliative care services in remote areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-321
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Bedouins
  • Palliative care
  • mobile unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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