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Uganda to host international conference on palliative care

By Cecilia Okoth

Added 14th August 2016 10:56 PM

The conference will seek to bridge global palliative care service delivery deficit, especially in Africa

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The state minister for primary health Sarah Opendi.

The conference will seek to bridge global palliative care service delivery deficit, especially in Africa

Uganda will host an international conference on palliative care, to chart out ways of improving service delivery to millions of terminally ill patients around the world.

Palliative care according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

The four day 5th International Hospice Palliative care Conference will be held at the Speke Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo and will run from August 16- 19, under the theme:  'Hospice and Palliative Care - From Resolution to Action: Differentiated Care for Diverse Communities'

The conference that will bring together patients, medical practitioners, academics, top government officials, donors, development partners and key stakeholders across the world will seek to bridge global palliative care service delivery deficit, especially in Africa and other low and middle-income countries, according to a ministry of health statement.

Conditions for which palliative care is provided include HIV, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes mellitus among others as defined by the WHO in the Global Palliative Care Atlas of 2014.

"Much of the burden for these conditions is in Africa and therefore it is important that we design and implement palliative care approaches that help to reduce suffering," the statement issued by the state minister of health, Sarah Opendi reads.

The conference is organized by the ministry of health in partnership with the African Palliative Care Association (APCA), the regional palliative care entity for Africa, in conjunction with the World Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA), the global palliative care entity.

The conference will seek ways of stemming the huge number of fatalities of terminally ill patients globally, occasioned by lack of access to palliative care.

"Around the world, over 18 million people die annually in avoidable pain and distress due to a lack of access to pain medications and quality palliative care. 40 million need palliative care annually including 20 million at the end of life. Only 14 percent of the need for palliative care is being met at the end of life, while less than 10 percent of the need is met overall," the minister said.

She noted that palliative care services have grown tremendously since 1993 though more still needs to be done given that Uganda only meets less that 15 percent of the need.

A 2014 World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on palliative care recognizes that access to palliative care and to essential medicines such as morphine for pain control contributes to the realization of the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and well-being.

Though a number of African countries have made strides to improve access to palliative care in key areas such as policy and legislation, human resources, education and training, services, access to essential palliative care medicines and others, more efforts in terms of partnerships and resources are required.

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