Here at home during the lockdown, we continued to work on our comprehensive educational curriculum to train on-the-ground healthcare providers (nurses, doctors, community health workers) in techniques of palliative care that can easily and inexpensively be employed to relieve the agony of chronic and life limiting conditions in the poor rural communities in Africa, and around the world. The uniqueness of this curriculum, unlike any other, is that the education is done with video clips from actual unscripted patient interactions out in the field.
We are happy to report that we just returned from our first trip back to our home-away-from-home in rural Uganda after over a year of not being able to travel, and were impressed by the work being done there by our team. Despite being restricted to traveling to patients in the remote areas due to the country’s lock-down, Nurse Prossy and the team carried on with a “pop-up” palliative care clinic they set up at Naggalama Hospital for patients and relatives who could travel by foot or bicycle. If the patients were unable to travel, relatives would come to get counseling and medications for their loved ones. Mobile phones (ubiquitous even in the poorest villages) were a valuable tool. Fortunately, now that the restrictions to vehicular travel have been lifted, our team is back out in the field delivering critical care and supplies to those in need.
While seeing our amazing palliative care team at Naggalama Hospital was special, one of the big highlights of this trip was presenting the palliative care video-based educational curriculum to the "Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care in Africa," a center for higher learning offering diploma and degree level programs to doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers from across the world. IHPC is very excited to begin using our program, which we will be providing them at no cost, so more can be trained in the principles of palliative care.
And as our team’s reputation has spread, they are now getting calls from other districts (counties) requesting their services. Pre-Covid, the team saw patients only in their own Mukono District, traveling the muddy rainy-season roads to see as many patients as possible, but now because of the dire effect of the pandemic on the whole area, they are answering calls from surrounding districts, some many kilometers away, doing their best to serve a much larger catchment area of about a million people as the only palliative care team in the area. A huge challenge, but one they are dedicated to meeting. Obviously, we hope to develop and financially support their efforts during this very critical time.
And finally, the documentary “Oli Otya – Life and Loss in Rural Uganda” by award winning filmmaker Lucy Bruell, that follows our work in Uganda is now being used by several U.S. undergraduate universities, nursing schools, and medical schools to enhance the teaching of their students in a wide-ranging list of courses including medical, public health, journalism, film, and ethics, to name a few.
In addition, the film has been garnering accolades at film festivals worldwide, most recently the 2021 African Film Festival. Congratulations to Lucy! Film link: https://www.oliotyafilm.com/ .
To see pictures from our latest trip, go to our website:
Thanks for all of your support. We couldn’t have done it without you!