Each year, the International Programs Department of Hospice Africa Uganda delivers a course in French that enables health professionals to initiate affordable and culturally appropriate palliative care services in Francophone Africa. Once again, IAHPC was delighted to provide Traveling Scholarships to members from Francophone Africa who took part in the course held in Kampala from 25 April to 27 May 2016.
As a requirement of the scholarship, grantees are asked to give a glimpse of palliative care in their countries and how they hope to adapt some of the knowledge and experiences gained at the congress to their own settings.
Arlos Kouassi Verlaine Sowanou explains some of the particular challenges that he faces in Benin in West Africa where he coordinates a palliative care unit in Comé.
Palliative care started in Benin two years ago with the creation of the Beninese Palliative Care Association and three palliative care units. But it has yet to be integrated into our health system. Palliative medicine is a new approach and we don’t yet have oral morphine for full control of pain. In our culture, cancer is considered as a mystical disease; it is diagnosed late and many people die in pain. Few health professionals practice palliative medicine and many do not enter into discussion with their patients. The physical appearance of disease is their only concern. We don’t have radiotherapy for cancer treatment. The number of HIV/AIDS patients has increased and patients are stigmatized and abandoned by their family. There is much poverty, and few people have any social security or the means to pay their health fees.
We have already started the training of other medical staff and now need to reinforce this and increase our capacity to provide palliative care. We also plan to include palliative care teaching in the training schools of nurses, midwives, physicians, pharmacists, social workers, physiotherapists, and psychologists, and to initiate the training of community volunteers to support patients at home. Finally, I plan to do more advocacy work, particularly to get free holistic care for patients, oral morphine and to establish partnerships both with government and non-governmental organizations.
This course gave me many skills and knowledge that will enable me to train others in palliative care. It has also helped me to better advocate for palliative care.
Hera Michel Kohoun and Somo Ollo Roland both work at Le Centre hospitalier Souro Sanou (CHUSS), the university hospital in Bobo Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso in West Africa. They explain that there are currently no palliative care units and no liquid morphine in their country.
Both practitioners feel confident that the skills they have acquired on the course will help them to start a palliative care service in the hospital where they work and to extend it within the city of Bobo Dioulasso, and in other cities with the collaboration of different associations. They plan on doing a lot of advocacy work to raise awareness about the importance of integrating palliative care into the health system, both with the minister of health and directors of the Faculty of Medicine and School of Nursing. They also plan to organize local training to sensitize healthcare workers in the importance of oral morphine in the use of pain control.
Hera Michel Kohoun:
“This training was very important and helpful to me because after receiving theoretical training about the different aspects of palliative care: pain control, management of symptoms, psychosocial support, consideration of the cultural and spiritual aspects of the patient and his family, I also got practical experience in the hospice, the hospital and in patients’ homes. In the last week of the program, I also took part in the ‘Training the Trainer’ course.”
Somo Ollo Roland:
“The new knowledge and acquired skills will be practiced daily in [my work with] patients with lymphoma, breast and gynecological cancer, digestive cancer and soft tissue prostate cancer. I will train my colleagues – doctors, nurses, and other paramedical personnel – in the management of pain by oral morphine and palliative care.”
To find out more about IAHPC’s Program Support Grants, and our Traveling Scholarships and Traveling Fellowships, please visit our website. Through these programs we support projects and individuals around the world, especially in developing countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.
You can contribute to this program and help palliative care workers attend and participate in congresses and courses by donating to the Traveling Scholarships Campaign in the Global Giving website.