Centre for palliative care and palliative medicine “BELhospice” was established on 20 May 2004 by Dr. Natasa Milicevic with help of her colleagues. Aim of BELhospice was to provide palliative care to terminally ill patients in Serbia according to standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Council, to assist the process of education of relevant professionals as well as of the general public, and to promote the concept of palliative care in Serbia and encourage the wider community to support our work. At that point, a first home care palliative care team was formed. This team, made of a doctor and a nurse, began development of palliative care in Serbia.

In 2006, with the help of charity “Hospices of Hope” from the UK, BELhospice centre has established the educational center “Prue Dufour.” Education Centre was named in memory of one of the pioneers of the hospice movement in the UK. Over the years, as part of continuing medical education number of accredited courses were held in the centre which were attended by more than 200 healthcare professionals.

Since its foundation, BELhospice center has been financed entirely by donations and fundraising projects. Since then, with the help of “Hospices of Hope,” a number of charity events have been organised with aim to raise funds and promote palliative care. Over the years, these events, along with donations from companies, institutions and individuals, enabled BELhospice to take care of terminally ill patients free of charge.

Dr. Natasa Milicevic is a member of a working group that was involved in drafting the National Strategy for Palliative Care that the Government of the Republic of Serbia adopted in 2009. In line with this strategy, the Ministry of Health in 2011 started the project “Development of Palliative care in Serbia”, financed by the European Union and implemented by several organisations including BELhospice and “Hospices of Hope”.

As part of this project more than 1,000 professionals were trained and they will be involved in a provision of palliative care at all levels of health care. This project includes the establishment of the Centre for the development of palliative care as well as development of programs for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in medical schools and related educational institutions.

During 2011 BELhospice has extended its multidisciplinary team and trained the first group of 20 volunteers which made BELhospice unique in Serbia. Today, the multidisciplinary team consists of two medical specialists, four nurses, a social worker and a spiritual coordinator, and if necessary, we engage a psychologist, a cleric and a group of volunteers.

We hope that in near future we will be able to extend our field of work even more and open first in-patient hospice where patient could be hospitalized and receive a full specter of palliative care services.