We were there to conduct a 6 day introductory course to children’s palliative care. This was well attended with 37 participants, mostly doctors from varying specialities, a few nurses, pharmacists, lecturers and even a dentist. 6 different institutions were represented from Khartoum, Soba and Medani.
The course is designed to highlight the needs of children with life threatening and life limiting illnesses and provide teaching around the basic skills to cater for these needs; topics covered included communication, pain and symptom management, end of life care, children’s rights, development and play.
The course was very well received and the feedback exceptionally positive. Many of the participants commented that they had been personally challenged and that the content has changed the way they want to practice. As one attendee wrote, “I think honestly this course is a turning point in my life, as a professional and as a human being!”
The session run by Tracey on self-care was the highlight of the week. It became apparent that caring for oneself is sorely neglected with most participants working very long and hard hours with little support. Sadly, this is probably not a reflection of Sudanese medical practice alone, but rather indicative of health professionals across the world. It seems that high stress levels and burnout are a universal phenomenon. Caring for ourselves is too often lost in our day to day work load, but hopefully, some of the participants left this course recognising the issue and with a plan of how to address it!
The Sudanese people were wonderfully welcoming and generous. Everywhere we went our hands were shaken warmly to a greeting of ‘you are most welcome’. We were chauffeured around Khartoum and shown many of the wonderful sites. Despite the incredible heat of up to 50 degrees, the locals are very relaxed. Khartoum is where the Blue and White Nile Rivers meet to form the mighty Nile that flows all the way to Egypt. The menu was extensive and varied and there was never a hungry moment. The fresh fruit and juices were a fiesta for the palate and the Nile fish simply the freshest.
Dr Nahla Gafer is a great driving force for palliative care in this part of Sudan. We were inspired by all she has already achieved and felt so privileged to be able to train for the ICPCN in Khartoum. We have no doubt that before long, and with enough support from the international palliative care community, children in Sudan will have access to high quality palliative care.
We thank both the ICPCN and the wonderful Sudanese people that we met for making this adventure possible.