Hospice and palliative care taken to schools to increase service delivery


In a bid to increase the delivery of hospice and palliative care services in Uganda enthusiasts have turned to training younger people in schools about this noble service.

Statistics show that Uganda has a hospice and palliative care gap of up to 89 percent of patients who need it, yet do not receive it. This is according to a recent report by the Lancet Commission from the Ministry of Health.

Palliative care, a specialized medical approach, focuses on alleviating symptoms and suffering associated with life-threatening illnesses, with the primary aim of enhancing the quality of life for patients and their families by addressing their physical, emotional, and psychological needs.

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To bridge this gap, palliative care experts have decided to partner with schools to interest the youngsters by equipping them with the necessary skills that are required to offer this service. This being done early enough in their lives, is with a hope of growing the number of those who can offer this care.

Speaking at the launch of the schools’ partnership program at Taibah international school, Mark Donald Mwesiga, the Executive Director of the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU), highlighted the fact that, for every population, approximately 1 percent will need palliative care. “With Uganda having over 45 million people, at least 4.5 million people need this care, but most of these individuals remain at home, as the healthcare system in Uganda is not structured to provide home care. Therefore training the younger ones brings the service closer to home.”

He urged the Ministry of Health to incorporate home care into healthcare services, thereby allowing patients to receive care in the comfort of their homes.

According to Mwesiga, there is need for increased government funding for palliative care services. “While the government currently supports the procurement of oral liquid morphine, there is a call for additional investments to ensure comprehensive palliative care, including essential accompanying medications,” he requested.

“Moreover, the absence of a palliative care policy is being recognized as a challenge, with calls for an increase in resources allocated to healthcare.” Mwesiga added.

Dr. Moses Muwanga, the Assistant Commissioner of Clinical Service in charge of palliative care from the Ministry of Health, gave notice of the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases in Uganda, signifying the importance of palliative care services.

He also revealed that the director general for health services has directed all hospitals to open up palliative care services. “To cascade it further, palliative care has been incorporated into the Ministry of Health structures, with positions created for palliative care specialists,” Muwanga said.

Annet Nanyonjo, the head teacher of Taibah International School, highlighted the positive impact of introducing palliative care education to learners and the establishment of a compassionate community club to foster a culture of care and support for those in need.

“These efforts reflect a growing commitment to improving palliative care services in Uganda, to ensure that more people in need can access the care and support they require, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for those facing serious illnesses.” She said.

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