Updated: 1 day ago
Saturday 14th October 2023 is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, which is an annual unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world. The theme for this year is "Compassionate Communities: Together for Palliative Care". Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says:
“WHO calls on all countries to expand access to palliative Care as part of their journey towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). That means stronger policies and better access to essential medicines.”
Improving the quality of life of patients with life-limiting illnesses is a primary focus of EMMS International. It is our core belief that nobody should spend a day experiencing pain and abandonment, however close to the end of their life they have become. This is why we have become specialists in introducing palliative care programmes, to support patients and their families to make every day matter and to live each day with dignity.
Sunita is EMMS International's three-year, government-funded UK Aid Match programme between EMMS International and partners in Nepal. Now in year two, it introduces palliative care in hard-to-reach locations in Nepal and also aims to reduce the burden of care for girls. Since April 2022, more than 1,000 individuals have been trained to address unmet palliative care needs in their communities. In rural Nepal, reaching patients can be challenging. More then 530 community workers and staff have been trained to support those who require palliative care. A vital system of morphine supply to remote villages has also been established, and we have purchased a 4x4 vehicle to ensure Sunita staff can reach patients who desperately need treatment.
Manoj* is a 25-year-old young and enthusiastic young man. He was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis 5 years ago. He lives in a rented house with his family in a slum area of Pokhara. He was referred to the Green Pastures Hospital in Pokhara, where EMMS International opened a specialist palliative care wing. The palliative care team provided Manoj with holistic care and enrolled him into its community service, teaching him what he can do for himself. He, his wife and mother were all counselled by the team. He has had regular home-based visits and was also enrolled in day therapy, involving him in art, crafts and other recreational activities. His enthusiasm and motivation to improve is a driving force, and he has occasional inpatient stays for intense supportive care.
EMMS International is pleased to report that its recent Chifundo project, to introduce palliative care across every district of Malawi, achieved an A+ rating by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in its final evaluation. 84% of Malawi's population live in rural areas. Many families, who are living in poverty, are stranded without ongoing care after a life-limiting diagnosis. Palliative care and pain relief for non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, is out of reach for many people. Together with our partners, we are proud to have started palliative care in each of Malawi’s 28 districts, which has raised the country’s integration of palliative care to its health service to be on a par with the UK’s.
Annie Khyuza Kasaka is a Palliative Care Nurse at the Mulanje Mission Hospital in Nepal
In total, during 2022/3, EMMS International has supported 10,418 people to receive quality palliative care. But there is still so much more that needs to be done. It is the world’s poorest who are most likely to experience life-limiting illnesses without help. Non-communicable diseases are predicted to be the leading cause of deaths in Nepal by 2040 and more than a third of the population could face their final days without professional care or morphine. By 2030, a 70% increase in annual cancer cases and deaths is predicted in Africa. Many people will face cancer alone with no treatment or pain relief. If you would like to support our palliative care work, please click here.
*Name changed to protect client's privacy