Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET) has called on government to fast track the formation of palliative care policy to ensure that care services are available at all health facilities as provided in human rights based approach.
Palliative care is an approach aimed at improving the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life threatening illnesses like HIV/AIDS, congestive heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, chronic respiratory diseases, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and diseases of older people.
And, this is done through prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems such as physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
Currently Ministry of Health has included palliative care to its health policies and guidelines and sectors strategic plans, health sector development plan, the HIV/Aids strategic plan and the health sector HIV comprehensive communication strategy with the aim of facilitating the provision of palliative care services within the national health system.
However, according to an assessment conducted by UGANET, there are few palliative health care service providers and a case with Jinja, the only qualified nurse a facility’s name withheld, retired therefore services are not availed to patients.
According to Executive director of UGANET, Dora Musinguzi, human rights and the law should be integrated in the national palliative care need to be scaled up so that these are implemented to promote and protect the rights of palliative care patients.
“Government should review documents and policies that restrict prescription of morphine to nurses who have trained in palliative care and doctors. To avoid patients continue to suffer in pain awaiting a doctor and a trained nurse to prescribe, all qualified medical workers should be allowed to prescribe,” she said.
“It is every one’s right to be free from pain hence need for government ownership and scaling of palliative care services across different regions throughout the country. Civil society organisations (CSOs) and other partners should conduct more sensitization and awareness campaigns for the discipline and train more personnel in palliative care emphasizing human rights approach,” She noted.
She called on government’s intervention through recruitment of more palliative care medical and non-medical workers to lower the doctor to patient ratio that stands at 1 to 20, constructing and equipping more health facilities.
Currently, government is preparing universal health bill that is yet to be tabled before parliament for legislation. As of now, they are at stage of acquiring a certificate of financial implications form the ministry of finance for a go ahead.