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Experts call for investment into palliative care for children

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Experts have urged researchers to study the kind of palliative care ought to be offered to children battling terminal illnesses.

Prof. Eve Namisango, a research manager at the African Palliative Care Association (APCA) said at a meeting held on Friday that more work needs to be done in pediatric palliative care if providers are to give evidence based interventions that improve the quality of life for children approaching their end of life.

Namisango says she has conducted an analysis and found only three studies that have been done in Africa around the same subject. The rest of the care given she said is based on evidence picked from elsewhere.

She says there is need for more information on how health workers can manage pain in children in the absence of morphine.

She added that other areas that are still under researched in terms of palliative care are grief and bereavement in addition to coming up with initiatives that can be championed by nurses with the general lack of medical workers who specialize in handling patients who are not necessarily going to be healed.

Agreeing with Namisango, Prof. Wilson Acuda the principal of the Institute for Hospice and Palliative Care in Africa said while their institution is supposed to train both palliative care professionals and conduct research in all aspects of palliative care, they haven’t done much in the research arm due to challenges in funding.

He said the research that they have been mainly relying on has been that carried out by students and cannot be used to inform policy, a reason as to why a lot of what is being done in offering palliative care here is imported.

On her part, Dr. Miriam Ajambo, the official in charge of palliative care at the Ministry of Health said that the money they are allocated is mainly for supervision and none is allocated to research.

She said this quarter, the palliative care division has only been allocated Shs 5 million.

However, even with the current state of the palliative care in the country, Namisango says with the right attitude, health workers can be able to cater for fragile patients who need palliative care in the most cost effective way possible.

She said even if Uganda is still on a learning curve when it comes to palliative care, researchers ought to pay attention to the quality of evidence they derive from studies as it’s important for data to be of high quality once subjected to systematic reviews to later inform policy.

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