Writing for the Africa edition of ehospice, Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, executive director of the African Palliative Care Association, called for greater accountability, commitment and courage from African governments in tackling the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Highlighting how Africa accounts for 71% of all infected with HIV – which translates into 24.7 million infected persons – Dr Luyirika calls for better investment in prevention, testing and treatment and for African governments to strengthen health systems alongside efforts to strengthen the anticorruption systems.
Dr Luyirika also highlights how HIV is contributing hugely to the palliative care need on the continent. He said: “The HIV/AIDS response must also consider that the palliative care demand is increasing on the continent because of HIV, opportunistic infections such as TB, HIV associated tumours such as Kaposi Sarcoma and other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol and accompanying neurological and cardiovascular diseases.”
He also suggests how palliative care can help, adding: “Strengthening palliative care integration into health system to care for those already infected as well as preventing spread to sexual partners and babies can only improve the chances of the Africans. Governments on the continent ought to commit more resources in the health sector and coordinate the multi-sectorial HIV response.”
On the International children’s edition of ehospice, Joan Marston from the ICPCN reports that there is still a long way to go to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS on children around the world.
Paediatric Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) coverage is still lagging in low- and middle-income countries with less than 1 in 4 children living with HIV having access to ART in 2013, compared to over 1 in 3 adults.
Dr Marston comments: “While many people say ‘We have ART – we don’t need palliative care’, the reality is that globally only 27% of children who need ART are on it. And those on ART often fail treatment, or have distressing symptoms; emotional and spiritual distress.
“Research in India has shown that adding palliative care to treatment in a large HIV Clinic in Mumbai, has resulted in improved quality of life, better compliance to treatment and increased school attendance. We believe in ART AND palliative care with good nutrition, education and opportunities to play, to help our HIV infected children to live as well as possible and as long as possible.”
Read this article by Claire Morris from the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, on the continued need for hospice and palliative care organisations worldwide to provide vital services for people living with HIV and their carers.