Activists Want Government to Allocate Funds for Palliative Care

BY K D SEBUNYA

Palliative care givers have urged government to put up a fund dedicated to home care, which is needed by any Ugandans, who are not receiving medical care in health facilities.

A number of Ugandans with life limiting illnesses, are confined in their homes with little or no hope for recovery. These kind of patients, depend on receiving home care remedies to manage pain, as well as psychosocial support. This is sometimes offered by family, but there is also a set of health care professionals with specialty in this kind of care, in what is known as palliative care. These care, givers, are organized under the Palliative Care Association of Uganda(PCAU),

At the climax of the “Road to Hope” camp, which gives younger people a practical experience of palliative care, as well as a platform to interact with seniors, Mark Donald Mwesiga, the PCAU executive director, acknowledged Uganda’s strides in the palliative care sectors, but pointed out that a lot needs to be done, especially in line with boosting palliative care giving.

“We need our health care system to appreciate that there people who are bedridden in their homes and it is costly for them. We need government to allocate resources for home care, as well as more funds for primary health care, for more prevention and for diagnostics to be closer to the people,” he said.

Mwesiga adds that the palliative care concept, has to be entrenched and structured in the country’s public health system, through deliberately recruiting palliative care professionals in the government health facilities, such that patients with life limiting illnesses in these facilities are wholesomely helped in all aspects including the spiritual, psychological, and psychosocial not only in physical.

In the same line, medicines especially pain relieving ones like oral muffin, should be made readily available in the lowest health facility, to save life limiting illness patients from the expenses incurred in accessing such medication.

About “Road to Hope” Mwesiga says it is an organization that brings together younger people who are involved in palliative care, many of whom were picked from their home where they were they were all still are the primary home care givers to their parents who can be either deceased or still living with the life limiting illness. The organization also involves those in schools that take part in palliative care programs.

According to him, the children that are picked from the very vulnerable families, are catered for and educated with an aim of making them self sustaining for their own sake, as well as for the sake of the families where they were picked from.

“In the event of sickness, in many families, it is now the children that are looking after their parents or guardians. Our program is designed in such a way that a palliative care nurse goes down and finds a child who is looking after an adult who is sick, many of them who are even orphans. We have catered for up to 80 of them.”

He adds that every year they are brought together in what is called the “Road to Hope” camp, where they are counseled, encouraged, and trained. This year we have initiated the compassionate community program, where we want to inculcate the traits of indiscriminative care and kindness into these children.

“Here we have been piloting what we have been learning over a period of time on being compassionate beyond self, and the children had an opportunity to visit some of the older persons within the community here in Lweza.”

Rose Kiwanuka, Uganda’s first palliative care nurse, says palliative care is about love and this is the pillar that is emphasized in this camp. She adds that when the younger ones participate in these initiatives, it is an indicator that the future of palliative care is on a firm foundation.

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