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Supporting Education & Training to Improve Dying, Death & Bereavement in Africa

Supporting Education & Training to Improve Dying, Death & Bereavement in Africa

Every death matters, and we only have one chance to get it right.

As I listened to Dr Eve Namisango of the African Palliative Care Association (APCA) presenting her research on what is regarded as a good death in Africa (see box below), I was struck by how similar views of a good death in Africa are to ours in Ireland, as captured by Irish Hospice Foundation’s Charter on End of Life.

We are so similar – but the challenges we face at the end of life are markedly different. According to the WHO, only 14% of people at end of life who currently need palliative care receive it, and the Global Atlas of Palliative Care reports that Africa has the highest per capita need for palliative care, at least in part due to the prevalence of HIV. (Sub-Saharan Africa, which has 15% of the world’s population, accounts for 68% of all HIV cases globally.)

Source: Global Atlas of Palliative Care

This is where APCA comes in. They are a Pan-African organisation with the mission of “ensuring palliative and comprehensive chronic care is understood and integrated into health systems at all levels to reduce pain and suffering across Africa”. Established in 2002, they have over the past twenty years supported more than 25 African countries to integrate palliative care into their national systems. Their vision and goals are very similar to those of Irish Hospice Foundation – but on a massively different scale. There are one-and-a-quarter billion people in Africa (more than 200 times Ireland’s population), and the current life average expectancy is 63 years as opposed to 82 years in Ireland.

Irish Hospice Foundation are funding two different, but linked, pilot projects for APCA. One is in the area of bereavement, an area on which little work has been done in Africa, and the other is in Palliative Care. The APCA approach in this has been similar to much of IHF’s work here in Ireland: identify a need, pilot a solution, measure its impact and aim to implement at scale.

The two projects I got to learn about on my trip to Uganda both started in late 2022. The plan is that the results will be presented to Africa’s Ministers of Health and participants at the International African Palliative Care Conference in August 2025, with a view to being rolled out across Africa.

The two pilot projects are being run outside Kampala, in Naggalama Hospital, 40 kms north of Uganda’s capital, and in Kitovu Mobile Hospital, 120 kms to the south. (Both coincidentally turn out to have been founded by Irish nuns!)

Read Full Article - Source: eHospice -

Author: Jean Callanan, Chair of Irish Hospice Foundation

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