For the first time a group of twenty-eight doctors, nurses, pharmacists and psychologists from all around Swaziland are attending five days of training covering the key concepts of paediatric palliative care. The training is taking place from 2 – 6 November in Ezulwini Valley in the beautiful mountain kingdom.
Course leaders, Busi Nkosi and Sue Boucher are from the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) and the project made possible through a generous grant from the Open Society of South Africa (OSISA), The training is being conducted in partnership with the Swaziland Ministry of Health and Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation – Swaziland (BCMCF – SD).
The course will form the basis of a Training of Trainers (TOT) course which will be completed in January 2016. The project also includes the adaptation of training materials and information specific to the needs and circumstances of Swaziland.
World Vision rates Swaziland as one of the most HIV-affected countries worldwide with around 26% of people aged 15 -19 and 19% of the population aged 2 and older is affected by HIV. This has also contributed to an increase in the number of orphaned and vulnerable children.
However Swaziland is one of only three countries in Africa with a dedicated government policy supporting the provision of palliative care for their population of around 1.25 million, more than a third of which are children aged between 0 -14 years. The palliative care policy makes specific mention of palliative care for children.
On Tuesday morning, 3 November, the Executive Director of BCMCF–SD, Mrs Mhakosazana Hlatshwayo made time to attend the morning session of training, In a short address to the participants, Mrs Hlatshwayo said, “Palliative care for children in Swaziland has been neglected for a long time. I am so pleased that something is now being done to remedy this.”
“We need to keep in mind that a child has pain, a child feels pain and a child needs to be made comfortable,” she said, and also commented on the importance of knowing how to prepare both children and their families for the end of a child’s life.
“This is the beginning of where we need to move as a country, I hope that you will be challenged by this course and begin to think critically about children,” she added.