Botswana gearing up to provide children’s palliative care

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Last week Busi Nkosi, ICPCN’s Advocacy Director, paid a brief visit to Botswana where she was warmly welcomed and held a productive meeting with a number of officials and stakeholders interested in getting the country’s first children’s palliative care service off the ground.

Busi reports that the meeting, held at the offices of the Ministry of Health, was attended by 27 people from different organisations and disciplines. Included in this group were

  • Lecturers from the University of Botswana
  • Lecturers from the Institute of Health Sciences
  • Pharmacists from Ministry of Health
  • Doctors from the National Hospital and from Hospices
  • Nurses from the hospital and hospices
  • Health officers
  • Nurse tutors
  • Acting Director and senior officials from the HIV/AIDS unit
  • Members of the Botswana Hospice and Palliative Care Association (chairman, vice chair and secretary)
  • Representative from WHO
  • Individuals from NGOs

The African edition of ehospice reported recently on the launch of the Botswana Hospice Palliative Care Association  and Busi notes that while Botswana is making great strides in terms of adult palliative care, children have been largely neglected. However things are hopefully about to change. A paediatrician with palliative care qualifications and who hails from the United States, Dr Susan Alisanski, has been working in the paediatric oncology unit at the national hospital for five months and has already begun making changes in order to provide a palliative care service there. 

“The paediatrician was very excited by my visit and at the meeting spoke passionately about children’s palliative care and informed Ministry of Health officials about the needs for her unit in order to deliver quality palliative care for children,” Busi said.

“It is encouraging that palliative care is being driven from within the Ministry of Health in Botswana and is under strong leadership and there is also support from senior officials,” she added.

After the presentation a constructive discussion was held. It was decided that a technical committee will meet on 28 August to make decisions on a number of important issues after which they will report back to the larger group.

Holy Cross Hospice in Botswana has built an 8 bed in-patient unit an they have agreed that one or two beds in this unit will be reserved for children.   

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