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Uganda launches palliative care handbook

By Sarah Namulondo

The health ministry and the Palliative care association of Uganda with support from the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) have launched a report documenting palliative

The book which was officially launched by the permanent secretary of Ministry Of Health Dr. Asuman Lukwago carries the history of palliative care since 1993 when it was first introduced by Dr Anne Merriman who introduced the science in Uganda.

Lukwago said that palliative care is a very relevant treatment in Uganda for persons suffering from terminal diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS.

He said that since must of these terminal diseases have decreased in their strains most of those people are living longer therefore a need for palliative care to be incorporated in institutions of higher learning.

With that it will help to ensure adequate staffing mostly in rural areas where high numbers of patients have an unmet need of palliative care Lukwago said.

Christine Munduru the health and rights program officer from OSIEA said that the idea of making this book came at a time when Uganda is at the top of palliative care treatment where by even nurses are allowed to administer morphine which is not the case in other African countries.

She said that at the conference Uganda’s success story made headlines but it was surprising when asked for a book or document which showed these successes for them to follow their was nothing so she talked to the Executive Director of OSIEA Binaifer Nowrojee about it and she agreed to finance the documentation and publishing of the palliative care handbook.

In a statement, the Palliative Care Association of Uganda says HIV/AIDS and cancer threaten populations but the situation is made worse by the fact that the healthcare system is grossly underfunded. Government gives only 1.67 dollars, approximately 3000 shillings per person instead of 4 dollars or about 11 thousands shillings per person per year as recommended by the Ministry of health.

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