Pioneering the palliative care needs assessment for non-communicable diseases frontier in Africa

Categories: Leadership.

The four are among the greatest threats to health and development in the 21st century. Worldwide, efforts to address NCDs are gaining momentum and several global frameworks have been established to support the NCD agenda. Most African countries have positively responded to the NCD agenda by setting up departments at Ministry of Health level to coordinate NCD care, treatment and support efforts. This comes at a time when African countries are also advancing the agenda for palliative care service provision with great enthusiasm and indeed palliative care has made significant advances over the last decade.

Research from the developed world suggests that patients with NCDs have palliative care needs which go largely unaddressed. In developing countries, very limited research has been done on palliative care needs of patients with NCDs. Moreover current inward and outward referral criteria in most health facilities do not provide clear pathways for  patients with NCDs to access palliative care. To ensure that palliative care needs of these patients are addressed by the NCD action plans, there is an urgent need to systematically identify the palliative care needs of patients living with NCDs.

The African Palliative Care Association with funding from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is launching a frontier to establish the palliative care needs of patients living with NCDs. The pilot project will be conducted in two African countries; Namibia and Malawi. The project is being conducted with keen interest in building capacity of researchers in the various countries through training of trainers to equip them with skills to do more palliative care research. For the start APCA has trained two lead trainers from the Ministry of Health, Malawi and Palliative Care Association of Malawi. The two will then train the bigger team that will be implementing the project with web-based support from APCA’s research manager.  We are confident that findings will indeed inform the action plans for NCDs in the two countries and have laid good plans for linking research into action through our close collaboration with in-country Ministries of Health and national associations palliative care at all levels.

“The research and training has been beneficial, we have been oriented to the unique research tools with clarity so we can now comfortably train others. The whole agenda of establishing facts about the palliative care needs of patients with NCDs is very useful for our planning.”  Immaculate Kambiyaof the Ministry of Health of Malawi.

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