World Day of the Sick – gov’t asked to focus on palliative care

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As the rest of the world celebrates World Day of the Sick today, Saturday 11, Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU), a national charity that cares for patients with terminal illnesses, has appealed to the government and other stakeholders to increase its focus on the provision of palliative care to critically ill and dying patients to improve their quality of life and the caretakers.

The appeal comes at a time when Uganda is recording increases in cases of cancer and other Non-Communicable Diseases, with many patients in need of palliative care – the only solution for many patients as they report to health facilities in late stages of illness.
One of these, Cissy Namayanja 44, a resident of Salama Kyamula a Kampala suburb is a breast cancer patient. She has been on the HAU Care programme since September 2016.
She said, “This day makes me reflect deeply on the period following a mastectomy that I had in July last year. After the surgery, my wound failed to heal and I became so weak and could not walk. I was literally stuck with my three children in the house with no one to help us. It was a kind neighbour who was concerned one day and took me to Hospice where I started to receive treatment.”

Palliative care team review a patient during a

Palliative care team review a patient during a home visit.

She added that, “At Hospice, my wound was cleaned, treated and was supported to start chemotherapy at Mulago Hospital. I have since completed six cycles of chemotherapy and I am doing much better now. Though not completely healed, I can now do some work to support my children.”

Dr Eddie Mwebesa, the Chief Executive Director at HAU says, “Hospice Africa currently provides palliative care to an average of 2,000 patients each month but this is a very small number compared to the estimated 25,000 people who need the service in Uganda. I therefore call on the government and other development organisations to increase support for palliative care by putting in place relevant policies and allocating more funds”.
Since its inception in 1993 Hospice Africa Uganda has been helping the seriously ill and dying patients to have a dignified and peaceful end-of-life. The organisation has now cared for over 30,000 patients and their families across its three centres in Kampala, Hoima and Mbarara.

The World Day for the Sick was started by Pope Paul II as a day for believers to offer prayers and care for those suffering from various illnesses. Faith organisations across the globe now use this day to provide medical support, food and other services to patients within their communities.

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