2008; Volume 9, No 6, June



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IAHPC Regional Reports

China’s Earthquake

As you know, on May 12, a horrible earthquake (Magnitude 8.0) took place at Wen Chuan, in the Sichuan Province in the P.R. China. After this catastrophe, thousands of people lost their lives and thousands of people lost their homes. We are very sorry for the suffering that this has brought on to the people of Sichuan and the rest of the country and hope that they will recover soon from this event. As some of you may remember, one of IAHPC’s Faculty Development Programs is located in Sichuan University in Chengdu, one of the most devastated cities. Dr Jinxiang Li, the grantee of the IAHPC Faculty program, and the rest of the palliative care team are fine, and have been working non stop providing care to patients who had to evacuate their homes.  

Patients are now living in tents and facing not only the suffering from pain and disease but now many more terrible situations some of which are evident in the pictures sent by Dr. Li.

House collapse of Moran Chen
House collapse of Moran Chen

Dr. Li visits with patient whose house was destroyed and is now living under a tent.
Dr. Li visits with patient whose house was
destroyed and is now living under a tent.

Damaged school
Damaged school

Team with Dr. Li
Team with Dr. Li


Dear International colleagues:

After this natural catastrophe, thousands of people lost their lives, thousands of people lost their homes, and thousands of people are still suffering. Many people have advanced cancer and are suffering excruciating pains as well as becoming homeless.

One of our patients, an eight year old girl, Moran Chen comes from mountain area of Peng Zhou county and suffers from osteosarcoma. During the earthquake, her family’s house collapsed. She is experiencing excruciating pain, hunger and homelessness. Her family really has no financial support, but we are providing pain control for the child. There are many others with advanced cancer who are also in bad shape. Fortunately, there is still much love in the world and I think that there is hope as long as there is love. We have contributed much to our patients, such as our time, our spirits, our skills and our loving hearts, but we are limited in how much we can do. They need much more help and support. They require spiritual care, medical management and we need funds to buy pain killers for them.

I believe that my international colleagues and related organizations of palliative medicine have sympathy with us. We would be grateful to you if you could give them a hand.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Jinxiang Li    

If you are interested in supporting this Palliative Care team in any way, please donate online in the IAHPC website at www.hospicecare.com or contact Dr. Jinxiang Li directly at [email protected]


Philippines – From the Pain and Policy Studies Group

“Last month, the Pain & Policy Studies Group (PPSG) sponsored an opioid availability workshop for the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia.  The Philippine Health Secretary welcomed the participants and announced the availability of 10 million Pesos (approximately USD 231,000) for the purchase of opioids (such as morphine) to alleviate the pain of poor cancer patients throughout the country.  See story below.

Funded by the Open Society Institute and hosted by the Pain Society of the Philippines, the workshop took place over 3 days on Boracay Island, Philippines.  The workshop was similar in design to others held since 2000 in Latin America, Eastern Europe and sub Saharan Africa:  teams of healthcare practitioners, government and drug regulatory officials from each country convened to learn about the global epidemic of untreated pain, the causes of under-treatment, the role of regulatory and system barriers that interfere in opioid availability and access, and methods to address these barriers.  They spent part of the meeting drafting Action Plans for their country.  PPSG will provide follow-up technical assistance as they implement these objectives.

For more information about opioid availability in these countries, see
. ” 



“Dear All,

I am delighted to share the news that Dr Mhoira Leng was appointed the first head of the Palliative Medicine Unit in the Department of Internal Medicine at Makerere University on 23 May 2008.

As many of you are aware, we have been working with the University on this new venture for several years. Palliative Medicine was introduced to medical students at Makerere in 1993 and has been examinable for undergraduates since 1998. The Distance Learning Diploma for Africa, from Hospice Africa Uganda and Makerere, has been operational since 2003 and is now being considered for upgrading to degree level. Palliative care is now an essential clinical service for all Ugandans as stated in the National Health Strategic plans of 2000 and 2006.

The palliative care needs throughout the country, and extending to Africa, will be enhanced by this first Palliative Medicine Department within Internal Medicine in this renowned University.

Mhoria Leng, a Consultant in Palliative Medicine, comes to us from Scotland and has academic experience in commencing the Palliative Medicine Department in Aberdeen and more recently working with academic units in the developing world. She is known internationally as well as in UK. She is the founder and Medical Director of Cairdeas, a registered charity that promotes palliative medicine education in developing countries. We are very pleased to welcome her. We are privileged to have her support and that of her Charity. The website for Cairdeas is www.cairdeas.org.uk

Mhoira will need a lot of support in this challenging post and we ask for your prayers for her. She will commence mid August.

Meanwhile, we do face challenges in the financial support of this new department. It is the first academic department in a University in this part of SSA and very much needed. We will ask for your ideas from time to time. The first glimmer of hope for funding the department came from UCH London through their Institute for Women's Health which later created the Women's Health Initiative in Uganda. They were the first to offer support for the first Head of the Unit in Palliative Medicine. As Mhoira is to be supported initially by Cairdeas, the UCH funding now supports our Lecturer in Palliative Medicine who is in training as a specialist registrar at Hospice Africa Uganda. Her name  is Dr Liz Namukwaya. Thank you Professor Ian Jacobs and the team from UCH for your support! Thank you Cairdeas for supporting Mhoira!

Finally, I wish to thank all of you who have prayed and assisted us in so many ways to bring this new department to fruition and for a gracious leader who can carry it forward into the future. We look forward to the training of Ugandans in academic excellence in the specialty of palliative medicine who can promote this care throughout Uganda and Africa so that suffering may be appeased and peace, through holistic care, can be brought to all in need.


Dr Anne Merriman, MBE, FRCP,
Founder, Director of Policy and International Programmes,
Hospice Africa Uganda”

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