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Wednesday,August 21,2019 14:21 PM

Hospice Africa Uganda lays off staff

By Vicky Wandawa

Added 23rd April 2019 03:31 PM

“We are proud that we have made a difference to the lives of over 33,000 patients and their families and we thank all of the dedicated staff and volunteers who made this possible,” Kelly said.

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Hospice Africa Uganda board Chairperson Joan Kelly planting a tree during the 25th anniversary at the organisation's head office in Makindye, Kampala. Photo/File

“We are proud that we have made a difference to the lives of over 33,000 patients and their families and we thank all of the dedicated staff and volunteers who made this possible,” Kelly said.

KAMPALA - Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU) has announced a downsizing of its staff at their Mbarara and Kampala centres due to a critical cash shortfall.

The Kampala‐based charity, which has provided palliative care services in Uganda since 1993 was left with no choice given the fall‐off in financial support from institutional and individual donors.

Palliative care 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.

According to a communiqué released Tuesday morning, the hospice’s chair, Joan Kelly said the decision to lay off staff was difficult.

“Sadly, as with so many other charities, funding has been a huge challenge for HAU in the last few years and we had to lay off staff in the last week at two of our three centres in Mbarara and Kampala to ensure we survive. There has been no change in our operations in Hoima.”

Consequently, HAU founder Dr.  Anne Merriman, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace for her work in the hospice, is appealing for help.

“We have had tremendous support over the last 26 years from institutional and individual donors, including HAU Boards in the UK, France, Ireland and the USA, and we are grateful to them for helping us in our mission to improve end of life care for thousands in Africa. We have reached a crisis funding situation and we are appealing to people everywhere – in Uganda and internationally to help us now,” she said.

Kelly noted that despite the situation, she is thankful to the staff and volunteers who have made HAU’s vision possible.

“We are proud that we have made a difference to the lives of over 33,000 patients and their families and we thank all of the dedicated staff and volunteers who made this possible,” Kelly said.

The HAU Model is centred on pain control with oral morphine, an affordable, accessible and efficient medicine, made on site in Kampala. This is coupled with the provision of holistic care to patients and their families. Merriman introduced palliative care to Uganda and Africa in 1993, initially in Kampala and expanding to Mbarara and Hoima. 

Through the institute of Hospice and Palliative Care, HAU also provides training for nurses and doctors from all over Africa, key to Merriman’s vision to introduce palliative care to the entire continent.

HAU celebrated its silver jubilee last year in October.  In her speech then, Merriman requested the government to help them realize £1m (about sh4.85b) to help them run the Hospice successfully.

“We need about £1m to reach out to all patients of life limiting illnesses, including those who are at home and have already lost hope in life,” said Merriman.

Hospice Uganda started out at Nsambya Hospital in a two roomed facility and with a group of three nurses offering palliative care services with the purpose of restoring hope of a better life to HIV positive patients and cancer patients and it was later moved to Makindye.

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