Travel date: August 16, 2016
Name of Meeting/Event/Activity: 5th International African Palliative Care Conference
Origin: Ilorin, Nigeria / Destination: Kampala, Uganda
It exposed me to a larger forum of palliative care world practitioners, policy makers, donors and some African ministers among others. l have acquired new knowledge and skills in various practices in palliative care such as research, advocacy, policy making, legal issues and paediatric palliative care just to mention but few. Presentations were so good with excellent range of presentations made which were so educative and in addition the presenters were experienced. The workshops on the other hand were more interesting in the knowledge sharing of day to day palliative care issues and a lot was learnt. With the knowledge and skills gained am going to be a resourceful person. I learnt about the world health resolution and how far some countries have worked on achieving the stated goals. I got to learn how the integration of Legal and human rights issues can greatly help palliative care patients as part of the holistic care management. I learn the involvement of other professionals is of great importance for example the police, this is because of the use of morphine as a narcotic medicine. I also got an opportunity to interact and network with other palliative care teams within African, Europe, USA, UK and other countries present at this conference. I have come to realize some areas that I will work on at my work place to be able to improve and integrate more the palliative care service.
As a clinical palliative nurse/lecturer from a limited resources setting country (Nigeria), l have observed that palliative care services has not been fully rooted in my country. The few hospitals that are practicing palliative care are limited to hospital based care with very few offering home-based care and this is not adequate enough for the palliative care need in the country. The Nigeria population is over 170 million, having millions of people living with HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases that require palliative care. The country has 36 states of which 10 participants from 4 states were represented. One of the largest state and the former country capital (Lagos state) with over 44 million populations has no representative in the conference and l doubt if there is any hospital offering palliative care in the state. Moreover, the Minister for health was unavoidably absent, this translate that the political support for palliative care services in my country is almost nil. My new knowledge and skills acquired at this conference will help me to form a team that will find a means of connecting the “Big Boys”(Influentia)l in the country that can link us to the policy makers and the Minister for Health, hence allowing advocacy, sensitization and education on the need to strengthen palliative care services in Nigeria. At the university level together with the affiliated teaching hospital there is a need for the team to also meet with the stakeholders on the need to integrate palliative care into undergraduate and post graduate curriculum and to train nurses on the wards as link-nurses that will strengthen the existing palliative care services in my center. With the issues that are in my work place, a needs assessment will be done to advocate for the support of the integration of palliative care service and education.
IAHPC scholarship can provide funding for more people to attend conferences: 1) They can give follow up action plan to funded participants for future support, 2) They can increase the support to encourage participant, and 3) Grantees can be used as contact persons in their various countries, hence there is need for continuous support.
NEEDS: provision of palliative care services through public health facilities at all levels of health care, that is, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. 1) There is need for the ministry of health to support the integration of palliative care in the system. 2) There is need for political support in order to have funding to support palliative care services in Nigeria. 3) Need for media support to create awareness to the population. 4) Need for legal involvement to resolve psycho-social issues. 5) Need for provision of community home-based care services to meet patients need at grass root. 6) Need for more advocacy, sensitization, training and education in our health institutions, community and country at large. CHALLENGES: 1) lack of political support, 2) Lack of trained personnel, 3) Lack of palliative care training in the medical and nursing curriculum, 4) Lack of funds to support provision of palliative care services. There was a saying in the conference by the Uganda Minister for Health that “We must make palliative care services available as air”. This can only be achieved in my country through advocacy. To do this, there is need to sensitize the policy makers, politicians and source for funding from government and NGO’s. A needs assessment to be done to establish the gaps and work accordingly. There is need to keep the records of people that are in need of palliative care through our studies and research work. We also need to expand the scope and access of palliative care through integration into students’ curriculum and the existing palliative care services in the hospital.