We are pleased to share with you the story of another nurse from the ‘Palliative Care – Celebrating Nurses Contributions Report’. Meet Rose Kiwanuka!
Now retired, Rose can look back with happiness and pride on what we have achieved in Uganda. Patients have a right to be pain free and the nurses who are alongside them need to ensure that this is attained. Let all nurses be empowered with palliative care knowledge. Rose was the first palliative care nurse in Uganda and has been a trailblazer for palliative care not only in Uganda but regionally and internationally.
Following an experience in hospital at the age of eight, Rose was determined to train as a nurse, as she wanted to be like the nurse who had cared for her, who was smart, gentle and caring. She trained as an Enrolled nurse at Nsambya School of Nursing in Kampala, later upgrading to a Registered Nurse. She then undertook a Diploma in Palliative Care with Makerere University through Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU), and a Degree at the Aga Khan University in 2015. She was full of enthusiasm and ideals as she began her nursing career, and it was during her training that she first cared for a patient who was dying, which greatly impacted on her decision to work in palliative care.
She was recruited to work with Dr Anne Merriman in 1994 following the first palliative care course organised by Dr Anne in 1993, to help start the first palliative care service in Uganda, and as there was no palliative care training in the country then, she had to go to the UK and the Netherlands to train. She worked at Hospice Africa Uganda for many years, both in clinical practice and education, being a role model for other nurses and health professionals in palliative care. It was during this time that Rose, along with others in Uganda, worked with the Ministry of Health to enable nurses trained in palliative care to prescribe oral morphine in order to make pain control accessible and available to more people in the country. Thus, Rose was one of the first nurses able to prescribe in Uganda.
After 15 years at HAU, Rose moved to a new role to work for the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU) as their country director in 2006….
where she has been advocating for palliative care provision for children and adults throughout Uganda.
When joining PCAU Rose was the sole employee and now, years later, PCAU has its own accommodation with offices and 15 employees, and is recognised by the Ministry of Health as the lead for palliative care within Uganda. She is a strong advocate for palliative care for both children and adults, utilising her clinical, educational, mentorship and leadership skills in all that she does.
Since those first early steps, Uganda now has palliative care programmes in >95 of the 112 districts and nurses are able to prescribe oral morphine, which is free of charge to the patients. Rose has been invited to present at numerous fora including at the UN and the World Health Organisation. She has and continues to inspire nurses in Uganda and around the world, and her commitment and passion for palliative care continues and is evident to all who know her.