Not since HIV emerged has there been more of a need for palliative care in Africa than during this pandemic. Alongside the urgency to advocate for access to life-saving care for those affected by COVID-19, there is a just as important need to incorporate palliative care strategies to alleviate suffering and uphold dignity during this crisis.
There is a crucial need to care for those suffering and those who will die of COVID-19 throughout our world, but because of the very nature of this illness, palliative care is an important piece of the total care of those affected by it. Whether it is addressing the physical symptoms, the emotional toll, the spiritual burden, or the economic stresses of the illness, palliative care must be there to reduce the suffering of the patient and providing psychosocial support for their families.
Palliative Care for Uganda, Inc. (PCFU) has been working in rural Africa for many years and understands the evolving needs of the population there. We have developed educational as well as clinical programs to help the local healthcare providers provide palliative care to reduce suffering in this underserved area. Communication is the cornerstone of effective medical care and PCFU has the understanding to address these issues despite many obstacles specific to this pandemic.
But resources are scarce and outside support is needed to help our organization meet the challenges of COVID-19 in rural Africa. We at PCFU believe that we have an ethical duty to relieve distressing symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and breathlessness as much as possible for those who will survive, and also for those who will not. Ensuring adequate supplies of medications, and the means to provide them to those who need them are key for treating symptoms and minimizing suffering effectively. Complicating matters, travel restrictions instituted in many areas of Africa during this crisis, even the ability of our team traveling from village to village, or patients coming to us, means that the innovative use of communication technology is something that our organization is investigating along with other strategies to help people maintain contact with our palliative care team there. This is useful during illnesses but also during times of grief and bereavement.
This pandemic means that PCFU has the added mission of relieving suffering in the COVID patient as well as for those afflicted with the other chronic and life-threatening illnesses for whom we’ve cared for all along. Please consider helping. Go to the “DONATE” page and give what you can. It will be appreciated by those who benefit.