Palliative care patient advocate educates community leaders in Ethiopia

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, Featured, and People & Places.

In a community sensitization meeting hosted recently by Hospice Ethiopia, Kalkidan Abera, a patient at the hospice, shared her story and educated community leaders about palliative care and Universal Health Coverage.

The meeting took place on 17 January 2019 at Hospice Ethiopia. Ato Getachew Mekonen, a member of Addis Ababa Iddir* council, opened the meeting.

Increasing awareness of palliative care

The meeting aimed to increase community leader’s awareness about palliative care, specifically through the voice of someone with direct experience. Another key aim was to motivate them to increase demand for and advocacy activity around access to palliative care.

16 community leaders participated in the training. They represented 8 Woredas and of the four sub-cities of Addis Ababa (Akaki Kality, Yeka, Bole, Kirkos, and Arada).

The stated objectives were that following the meeting, the participants would be able to:

  • understand the meaning and philosophy of palliative care
  • identify people in the community who could benefit from palliative care
  • refer patients requiring palliative care; and
  • comprehend the importance of palliative care and share this knowledge with their community.

A highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Kalkidan Abera, a person with direct experience of palliative care.

In addition to Ms Abera, the Hospice Ethiopia team included staff members: Ephrem Abathun, Yohana Melese and Walle Desta, and Nuriya Hussien, a Hospice Volunteer.

Raising awareness in the community

The Hospice Ethiopia team provided participants with information flyers and posters to support their efforts to raise awareness of palliative care in their community. The flyer focuses on the meaning and benefit of palliative care, information on who would benefit from this service. It also included contact details of Hospice Ethiopia. The Hospice Ethiopia team translated the flyer into Amaharic, as this is the language most commonly understood in the target communities.

A total of 257 flyers and 80 posters were distributed.

The participants completed a short questionnaire aimed to measure understanding of palliative care before and after the meeting. This reflected an average score of 7/10 before the meeting and 9/10 after the meeting.

Group feedback

During a group discussion, the participants reflected that the meeting helped them to have a clear understanding about Hospice Ethiopia the palliative care service provided. They mentioned that palliative care is a care given to patients with incurable diseases aiming at reducing physical, psychological, social and spiritual suffering.

Furthermore, they noted that they had learned that palliative care is a human right. They also expanded their understanding of the various diagnosis that could benefit from palliative care.

Moving forward

The participants agreed to do the following activities in order to promote palliative care in their communities:

  • Share the knowledge they have gained from the meeting in their Iddir regular meeting
  • Share the flyers with their Iddir member and community
  • Organize a meeting with their Iddir members and invite Hospice Ethiopia to speak about palliative care
  • Refer patient if they have any information who may need the service.

One participant said: “The training has helped me to understanding and have better awareness of the role of Hospice Ethiopia and palliative care as well as how I could contribute to raising awareness and increase demand for palliative care among the ones who need it.”

Another noted: “I have heard about Hospice Ethiopia before but I never had such good information and awareness about how it is such an important issue. Palliative care enables to improve lives of chronically ill patients. Most of the society don’t have the awareness about this palliative care and hide patients in their homes, which means they end up in physical, social, spiritual and psychological pain.”

*An iddir is a type of insurance program run by a community or group to meet emergency situations, primarily funerals.