Palliative Care: The Government is failing those at the end of life during COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic has impacted the population in drastic ways and it has caused unprecedented damage to lives and put enormous pressure on health systems

Currently, with resources being diverted to effectively respond to COVID-19, patients with other life-limiting conditions are finding it difficult to access health care services. These patients may themselves being pushed out of their health-care settings with reduced access to continuous care

In the event of COVID-19, the health system is forced to implement a triage system that is denying critical care treatment to some serious patients. In that particular situation, there is an urgent need for strengthening of palliative care services to mitigate the impact of the pandemic

”Older People are more vulnerable and this is the most challenging time for such patients who need a continuum of care and they require more palliative care than ever” –  Emily Ajiambo, Ag. Commissioner Disability and Elderly Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development

The current situation of the pandemic in the country, with dramatic older person death associated with COVID-19, has underscored the importance of palliative care. The need for palliative care has been expanding due to several factors like ageing, an increase in the rate of cancer and other chronic health conditions

COVID-19 has given the country an opportunity to think about the scope of palliative care and how to expand and strengthen the palliative care services within the community. Health systems can take advantage of the unique skills and strengths of palliative care services

During the webinar that was organized by Palliative care association of Uganda in partnership with HelpAge Uganda on ”Towards improving access to palliative care for the elderly in Uganda,” most panellists highlighted the challenges that older people are facing and what can the government do to improve the Palliative care services in the country

The Ministry of Health, Uganda issued guidelines on how to control COVID-19 but there are no updated guidelines for palliative care services

Katherine Pettus, Advocacy Officer for Palliative Care at International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care said, “There is a need for strengthening Palliative care Services during COVID 19”

”The focus should be on integrating palliative health care as part of the routine care in the health service”- Dr. Irene Nsingo N. Katumba, Medical Manager from Reach One Touch One Ministries Uganda said

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Frank Byaruhanga is a human rights activist with years of experience in community dialogues, digital communication, advocacy and digital campaigns. He specializes in Media Relation Work, Management and Training with sufficient knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth-led research, Content developer, Creative Activism, Social Media Management and documentary photography.

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