The study came out with the following results: as expected, lymphoma and leukemia presented the bulk of the cancers (> 30%); 78% of patients having stage IV disease.
There was an underestimation and under-assessment of the patients’ pain. 66% of working staff held some incorrect beliefs about morphine, such as irrational fear of addiction or respiratory distress.
Few children receive medication modifications before painful procedures. Only 15% of the staff had specific training in paediatric palliative care.
The study recommended the following:
- Pain assessment (including a pain scoring tool) should be a routine practice by health professionals for all children affected by cancer.
- Availing opioids at all settings where paediatric cancer patients are found is very important; and personnel should be trained on the safety and importance of morphine use for pain management. Such training should also include introducing the practice of medication modification before painful procedures for children.
Prof Bakhieta Attalla, Dr Al Amin Saeed and Prof Sirag Eldin M. Kheir (all members of the SMSB, Paediatric Council) showed much interest to be involved in establishing protocols of management and training in palliative care for children, as well as paediatric palliative care services.
They will be collaborating with Dr Nahla Gafer, Head of the Palliative Care Unit at the Radiation and Isotope Center, Khartoum (RICK), and co-supervisor of Dr Farouk’s research.