Infrastructure and manpower to facilitate access to palliative care in Uganda has doubled over the past two years.
This was revealed yesterday at a media sensitisation workshop organised by the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU).
Palliative care is a specialised approach that involves providing patients with life limiting serious conditions relief from pain and stressing symptoms.
In 2011, the World Health Organisation statistics showed that only 10 per cent of the country’s population had access to palliative care.
By then, there were about 120 specially trained nurses in 60 districts to serve the 33 million population.
Three years later, with a population that is estimated at 37 million, the country director of PCAU, Ms Rose Kiwanuka, noted progress.
“Currently, there are 230 nurses specially trained in 82 districts. They are supplemented by clinical officers and even doctors to deliver Palliative care at the 131 facilities that are accredited. We also have 12 stand-alone health centre providing Palliative services,” Ms Kiwanuka said.
However, literacy and knowledge about the availability of the service and what it entails remains low and scanty.
“People still have fear for drugs like morphine. They are unaware of its use and how vital it is as a pain reliever in the palliative process,” Ms Kiwanuka said.
PCAU has been conducting workshops and trainings countrywide to create awareness.
“We are looking at covering all the districts. While we are at it, more sensitisation has to be undertaken. We want the country to know what is happening in the communities,” Ms Kiwanuka said.
The country director also sighted lack of information form the different centres providing palliative care as another challenge that is clumping down on their ability to assess the state of the service in the country.
“We have a problem with evaluation in terms of how many people are actually accessing the service. There is little or even no documentation at the different health centre. For now, we are using estimation.”
To sensitise all the districts about palliative care, more personnel have to be trained and health centres built. According to Treat the Pain Uganda statistics 2013, there was backlog of 80 health facilities awaiting accreditation.
“For now, the focus is on training and then later we will be accrediting these health centres so that they can also become operational,” Ms Harriet Kebirungi, a PCAU training officer, said.
For a health centre to be accredited, it must have at least a qualified and trained medical practitioner in the Palliative care field.
The PCAU country director, Ms Rose Kiwanuka, also sighted lack of information from different centres providing palliative care thus hindering their ability to assess the state of the services in the country.