Breaking

30 Districts Lack Access to Palliative Care Services

Dr Charles Olaro, the Director Curative Services in the Ministry of Health said even as there is a big number of people who need palliative care including those battling Cancer, TB, sickle cell anaemia, HIV and other painful illnesses, only 11 per cent of those that need this care get it.

Audio 3

More than 30 districts in the country still lack palliative care services. This is despite Uganda being recognized globally for being the first country to manufacture cheaply and use oral morphine to manage pain among people who suffer from terminal illnesses.

Speaking during a meeting of palliative care providers, Dr Charles Olaro, the Director Curative Services in the Ministry of Health said even as there is a big number of people who need palliative care including those battling Cancer, TB, sickle cell anaemia, HIV and other painful illnesses, only 11% of those that need this care get it. 

He said at the height of the lockdown in April to May, up to 50 per cent of those that were initially accessing oral morphine couldn’t get it because of a breakdown of services including transport.

Since 2004, the only pain-relieving drug that health workers have been considering for palliative care has been oral morphine but Olaro says many new medicines are being assessed to be included on the list of medicines for palliative care to give people options.

However, while he says this, it should be noted that oral morphine is produced at only one place in Uganda,  at the NGO run Hospice Africa Uganda in Makindye. 

Dr Mark Donald Mwesiga, the Executive Director Palliative Care Association of Uganda an entity that brings together facilities or hospice branches that offer palliative care across the country, says palliative care services have been largely left to private NGOs even as government unlike elsewhere has made directives that increase access such as allowing nurses to dispense morphine. 

//Cue in; “Uganda has been...  

Cue out... Spread the services.”// 

Mwesiga says although they have tried to extend pain relief services to over a hundred districts they often slow down due to lack of funds.

Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, who heads the Africa Palliative Care Association says now is the time for the government to set aside some funds for palliative care since some money which would have taken people abroad for care has been saved with the lockdown on travel early in the year. 

  //Cue in; “We can start with ….

Cue out…. And make us sick”. //

Luyirika suggests a National Palliative Care Fund that can be set up by the palliative care association in Uganda and have members make an annual contribution to ensure that there are running funds to at least guarantee constant availability of morphine.

//Cue in; “Working together with ….

Cue out: “…not suffer unnecessarily.//

According to statistics by the Ministry of Health, 34 per cent of all cancer patients diagnosed need palliative care.

Entities

CSOs

Keywords