Palliative care in Karamoja and its challenges

Jim Tamuro, Pre-Intern Doctor, St Kizito Hospital Matan, has been a member of PallCHASE for several years and currently the facility where he is interning at has shared the following update of their work in Uganda.

The global need for palliative care is expected to grow as a result of the ageing of populations and the rising burden of non-communicable diseases and some communicable diseases. In Karamoja, one of Uganda’s poorest regions. Karamoja sub-region is unquestionably disadvantaged by not just inadequate health technology but also its relative location from the better-equipped National Referral Hospital, Mulogo. Of the socio-economic nature of the people, most patients live below the poverty level. Several cancer patients in need of chemotherapy and radiotherapy are unable to access the services due to the long distance to reach the national referral hospital. Prompting the hospitals to offer the most they can, palliative care.

At St. Kizito Hospital Matany, palliative care is provided by Primary Health Care nurses (PHC) who travel -with the support of the Hospital- to visit the patients and give medical supplies to the homes of residents. morphine is the most prescribed and delivered. If it was just about the medical conditions, the challenges would have been much simpler to alleviate but, financial constraints limit the patients from even getting food and water. Most of the patients visited are in visible misery arising from their inability to make a living. Considering how they have been making a living from manual labour and the incomes were hand-to-mouth, health conditions like these are just forcing the patients to live shorter than they could have.

The Primary health care team with little funding from the hospital and well-wishers have made efforts to help the patients with the basics of food and water to accompany the strong medications that demand a lot from the body. The Hospital Palliative care nurse team on several occasions have carried along some food items like posho, beans, and milk powder among others as they deliver the morphine refill for the patients during the home visits.

In one particular visit that got documented, the team visited two terminally ill cancer patients who reside in the neighbourhood of the hospital in sheer lack and agony.

You can read the full report in the Newsletter by clicking on the link below.

Pallliative Care in Karamoja and its Challenges

We are grateful for Jim and the team’s commitment to improving access to Palliative Care in difficult and limited resource settings.

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