On October 15 2016, the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU) convened palliative care stakeholders and members of the general public at the Old Kampala Primary School in Kampala, Uganda to commemorate the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day (WHPCD).
The event, which was promoted under the theme of this years’ WHPCD, “Living and Dying in Pain: It Doesn’t Have to Happen“, started with an awareness walk along Kampala’s city streets. Staff from palliative care partners across the country held posters and banners, and marched alongside a brass band for nearly two hours drawing the public’s attention.
Raising awareness through a solidarity walk
The awareness walk was led by the State Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Sara Opendi. While starting off the walk, the Minister appealed to all stakeholders to work together to ensure that palliative care is “available as air” for patients and families in need in Uganda.
She pledged that the Ministry of Health would continue to support all efforts for health facilities, both public and private, to provide palliative care services. She also stated that morphine for the management of moderate and severe pain among palliative care patients should be accessed by every patient in need, informing the public that the government of Uganda had allocated funds for the production of morphine in the country.
Hon. Minister of State for Health Dr. Sarah Opendi, the country director for PCAU, Ms Rose Kiwanuka, and the PCAU Good will Ambassador Mrs Joanita Kawalya Muganga then proceeded to lead the awareness march through Kampala’s city streets.
Following the march, staff from palliative care partners, as well as journalists, participated in the biennial PCAU soccer gala, which draws partners together to participate in football competitions. The purpose of the soccer gala is to promote collaboration and networking among institutions that have a common interest to see palliative care services strengthened. The following institutions participated in the gala:
- Uganda Ministry of Health
- African Palliative Care Association (APCA)
- Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU)
- Joint Medical Stores (JMS)
- Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC)
- Comprehensive Rehabilitative Services Uganda (CoRSU)
- Kawempe Home Care (KHC)
- Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery
- The AIDS Support Organization (TASO)
- Reach Out Mbuya
- Mildmay Uganda
- Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU)
- Mother Mary Cancer Palliative Care Center
- Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI)
- Makerere Palliative Care Unit (MPCU)
- Protecting Families against HIV/AIDS (PREFAR)
- A team of health journalists.
While the soccer gala was ongoing, the members of the public attended a health camp beside the play grounds. The public also received palliative care messages, embedded into an entertainment programme.
At the end of the day, the Mulago School of Nursing School were declared as the champions after beating the Infectious Diseases Institute, 1-0. Kawempe Home Care took third position while Reach out Mbuya emerged as the best disciplined team. Rosemary Namwanga, the goalkeeper for Hospice Africa Uganda was declared as the best female player.
While officiating the closing ceremony of the event, the Senior Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Jacinta Sabiiti asked medical workers to take the lead in promoting hospice and palliative care services in the country. The president of the PCAU Board appealed to all stake holders to remember the theme of the day and maintain it as their take home message. The message being that: Living and dying in pain: it does not have to happen.