The discussion started with a presentation by Professor Dame Sally Davies, highlighting the major infectious diseases with high mortality. These included HIV, Ebola, TB, Malaria, Polio, Bacterial meningitis and measles. She expressed concern that globally, resources are being taken away from infectious diseases to focus on non-communicable diseases.
The panellists discussed emerging antimicrobial resistance, caused in part by over prescribing and misuse of antibiotics and suggested that there is a need for a combined effort to combat this in animals and in humans.
The South African Minister of Health noted that the majority of the burden of diseases such as TB was borne by Low and Middle Income Countries, citing the fact that despite the presence of anti TB medicines for the last half a century, TB is still a major disease with over 80% of all AIDS deaths in Africa caused by TB.
According to Dr Luyirika: “the practitioners of palliative medicine should be interested in this debate. They ignore infectious diseases to their peril because these are a major cause of suffering and pain among the dying and yet carry a risk not only for patients but also health workers.
“As efforts are made to establish national and global surveillance systems for infectious diseases; as preventive and treatment strategies are implemented, providers of palliative care ought to consider the integration of infectious diseases prevention and management in palliative care education and practice. This calls for innovation and short of this is to abandon patients with multidrug resistant TB, Ebola and other emerging and old infectious diseases to die painful and lonely deaths.”
Read the full article on the Africa edition of ehospice.