Palliative care is the holistic approach to provide relief to patients suffering from life threatening diseases and their families throughout the disease. This is mainly through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification, comprehensive assessment and management of physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems. With the rise of elderly population in the world patients needing palliative care will also increase. Family physicians who are closest to the community and easily accessible has a major role to play in providing palliative care. Their broad knowledge, long standing relationship with patients and their families, ability to carry out home visits and communicate and coordinate with other health care resources place them in an ideal position to address complex issues faced by patients. Keeping up to date with knowledge, acquiring counseling skills, non availability of guide lines and medications, lack of support from team and time constraints are the challenges faced by family physicians in providing palliative care. With the aging population, demand on palliative care resources will increase markedly in the next few decades. Developing palliative care models, improving the skills and opportunities for doctors to learn sound palliative care principles have to be initiated without a delay in order to meet the challenges of the future.
Keywords: General practitioners; palliative care; primary care.