On 10th October, hospices and palliative care providers across the world came together to commemorate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day and to share a simple message, “Palliative Care: it’s my care, my comfort”. Patients, academic institutions and other supporters also added their voices to the cause. In the landscape of the coronavirus pandemic, palliative care has never been more important, as global coronavirus deaths reach 1 million.
Dr. Emmanuel Luyirika, the Executive Director for the African Palliative Care Association had this to say;
“Before COVOD19 the world and especially Africa was already burdened with unmet palliative care needs due to communicable and noncommunicable diseases. The emergence of COVID19 and attending lockdowns and physical distancing measures reduced the opportunities for patients to interact with their providers. In addition, those infected and with COVID19 symptoms added to the burden. Some of the survivors have also continued to have emerging complications and sequelae.
As we celebrate the WHPCD 2020, we need renewed focus on entrenching palliative care as part of UHC and health systems to support patients and their families better.”
The African Palliative Care Association, in partnership with the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance supported a number of organisations to profile palliative care in their different nations and locations. The majority of events had to be held virtually owing to restrictions on gatherings and movement. Many included mass media coverage to raise awareness and support for palliative care, and to amplify the voices of patients in advocacy efforts.
The Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance (WHPCA) Executive Director, Dr. Stephen R. Connor sai;
“People from around the world who have been impacted by a life-limiting illness — either personally or by supporting a loved one — will be making their voices heard, asking policy makers to pay attention to prioritize palliative care policies and services. Further, people who have been standing in solidarity with them — local leaders, volunteers, advocates, clinicians — will be volunteering their time to amplify the public message. All the events are listed on the WHPCA website. https://www.thewhpca.org/ ”
Many people living in low income countries, struggle to access palliative care. The WHPCA believes palliative care is a basic human right.
Etsegenet Asefa who lives in Ethiopia had severe physical pain and symptoms, but also emotional, spiritual and psychosocial pain due to her cancer diagnosis. Palliative care relieved her suffering, brought comfort to her and her family, and gave her confidence and hope once more.
Etsegenet said “I’m 50 years old and I access palliative care at Hospice Ethiopia. After my diagnosis, I found myself in a severe physical, psychosocial & spiritual distress. But after accessing palliative care, my suffering was holistically relieved. I have comfort and improved health status. I am now able to help others by giving care and raising awareness for those who were once in my shoes. My family are very happy, satisfied and at peace with my improvements and that am alive now with no pain. Palliative care must be accessible because there are numerous people suffering from life threatening illness in developing counties like Ethiopia, especially women with breast and cervical cancer. After I accessed palliative care, I got the initiative, courage and psychological readiness to start from the beginning again. I used to give up on myself, I never saw that I would be here today. I advise and encourage people to not give up on themselves.”
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