At the invitation of the African Palliative Care Association (APCA), supported by the Namibian Ministry of Health and funded by USAID, a group of 38 doctors, nurses and social workers attended a 5 day training course led by the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) in Windhoek, Namibia from 14 – 18 July.
Many who attended the course travelled to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, from all over the vast country of Namibia. Some came from as far north as Oshakati and Onandjokwe to be trained in the basic principles of children’s palliative care.
There were also a number of professionals attending the course representing the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and from the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
The training, led by Busi Nkosi and Sue Boucher of ICPCN, covered a vast array of topics, covering both medical and psychosocial topics and ranged from caring for children and their families from the perinatal period to issues related to caring for adolescents and young adults. This training is specifically focused on problems related to the African setting using information from the ‘Textbook for Children’s Palliative Care in Africa‘ edited by Dr Justin Amery. A number of videos were used in order to reinforce the topics, including the newly filmed Beginnings and Endings video on perinatal palliative care produced by PATCH-SA, a children’s palliative care association supporting both professionals and parents of children with life limiting and life threatening conditions in South Africa. One participant remarked that the videos used had “really solidified and strengthened the message that was being conveyed. It helped me travel the world through the presentations.“
Asked about the value of the training a participant responded, “There is a great need for children’s palliative care in Namibia. Working with children with cancer has opened my eyes to the need of [this kind of] care. This workshop is a prayer answered. My fears and lack of confidence to address issues that are sensitive have been addressed. I hope to do better at work and to continue growing in knowledge.”
A most encouraging development was when one of the doctors said that as a result of what he had learned on the course, he would be far more inclined to prescribe morphine for children in severe pain.
In September the ICPCN will return to Namibia to conduct a Training of Trainers (TOT) course in order to help a number of the participants to become trainers in children’s palliative care. ICPCN looks forward to working together with APCA and those who attended the course to help palliative care for children to develop and grow in Namibia.