An interview with human rights lawyer, Meredith Lwanga

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Name: Meredith Lwanga

Nationality: Ugandan

Served on APCA’s Board since: 2011

Position on the Board: Treasurer

Occupation: Human Rights Lawyer with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Is there a connection between your work and your work on the board? Palliative care is a human right, a right under health rights.

How did you first become interested in palliative care? It was when I was first working with UNAIDS here in Uganda in 2006. It was then that I met Dr Faith, the Executive Director of APCA at the time and they were looking to work with UNAIDS.

They were passionate then to highlight the role of palliative care in the UNAIDS response. I was working as a human rights advisor at the time and so I was working with partners and I soon started working with APCA to help them conduct their advocacy.

I remember, the more I spoke to them the more interested I became.

You’re half way through your term on the board, three years in: what would you say the highlight of those three years has been? We had, just last year, the board met in Zimbabwe and we visited different homes which were under hospice and the hospice was providing palliative care services to these particular homes. It was good to get to the ground, when we are in the board meetings we don’t always see the impact that our advocacy has on the ground.

Going to the villages and meeting patients was really special and quite interesting for me.

You also have three years left in your term on the board. What’s your vision for both APCA as an organisation and for palliative care in Africa more broadly? I hope the advocacy we are doing right now really does pay off. I know in Uganda the Ministry of Health has really listened and integrated palliative care into their policies. I hope that this can happen in other countries.

Also, I would love to see more people accessing pain relief like morphine – it is such a basic human need, no not need, that’s not the word, a basic human right.

Considering I am working with the court right now I would find it very exciting to actually see a state, not necessarily Uganda, have a case brought against it. Using human rights mechanisms to hold states account for not providing palliative care.

This interview was first published on the APCA website and is re-printed here with permission. 

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