By Alison Ramsey, Newsletter Editor
The first crucial step to initiating a palliative care program is often to make it known to three key groups: .the public, medical professionals, and the government. A need may exist, but it cannot be fully addressed until it has been properly identified, its scope is measured, and the three groups necessary to its relief convinced of its importance.
Efforts to address the need for palliative care in Cameroon are achieving results, and there are clear indications that the issue has become better known.
Though the COGE Santo Domingo-SEG Cameroun conference “had fewer people than usual,” reports its president, Jiofack Fulbert Kenfack, “it gave us the opportunity to work hard and resulted in 11 written recommendations. We achieved more successes than before.”
The first recommendation is: Develop, strengthen, and implement a national palliative care policy for primary care, communities, and home services.
Other recommendations include:
Palliative care organizations aren’t sitting on their hands, waiting for their world to change, but progress is hard-won.
“When we started,” says Kenfack, “one goal was to remove palliative care from the banner of cancer, because it is for all types of illnesses. More people are now aware of this, but we need more work for it to be widely accepted.
“We just trained a team of 33 volunteers to travel to districts and accompany those at the end of life in their journey, but we don’t even have the funds necessary to pay for their phone calls while on the job.”
From January to June, the organization’s goal is to contact at least 200 associations to further sensitize the population about palliative care. After that? “We want to create a group of journalists educated in palliative care, to transmit the message; and expand services to children, many of whom die in suffering,” says Kenfack.
The population is receptive but basic problems remain, such as accessing the liquid morphine relied upon for pain relief. “We have been waiting for more than eight months for one order,” he says.
Yet, urged onward by necessity, those who advocate for palliative care remain deeply committed. As Kenfack’s conference report states: “Palliative care is more than a struggle against pain and suffering; it is a public health imperative.”
Learn more about COGE Santo Domingo-SEG Cameroun, an IAHPC member institution, in the IAHPC Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions.