- Few people are aware of the benefits of Palliative care
- At Arua regional referral hospital, there are 2,585 patients that have been registered for Palliative care support since 2013
- Palliative care involves a team of doctors, nurses, allied health and other volunteers who work together to provide an extra layer of support to the person and their family
- The teams are commonly involved with illnesses such as heart, lung or kidney disease, cancer or advanced dementia. Involving palliative care allows for better control of symptoms and better quality of life
Arua- Ms Neria Driwaru, 70 of Awupi village in Ayivuni Sub-county had lost hope of living after she was diagnosed with Cancer of the Liver in 2005.
At that time, she became weak and could not walk. She had to be carried from the rising of the sun to its setting to change positions in her compound till she retires to bed at night. She could be bleeding through the rectum and this worsened her condition as she had a distend stomach.
“I had lost hope of living even for one year after I was found to be having cancer of the liver. I could not talk well, or even walk a distant. But since I was enrolled in Palliative care in 2006, I can now walk, talk well, dig and even cook for my grandchildren.”
She said the Nurses at Arua Regional Referral hospital counselled her, offered drugs for her in the Palliative unit, which has since then changed her health condition. “I feel much better because of the care and support offered to me. I am now hopeful that God can still make me live longer because I keep going for counseling. Since then, I brought ten patients to the Palliative care unit so that their lives can improve also,” she added.
Ms Neria Driwaru, 70 who is receiving Palliative Care at Arua Regional Referral hospital. Photo by Felix
Now Dr Jascinto Amandu, the retired Commissioner for Clinical Services, is lobbying for construction of a Shs 500 million New Life Hospice Unit in Arua. Already, the land has been secured at Oduluba village in Dadamu Sub-county and this would make services easily accessible than always referring patients to Mulago, Nakasero or Nsambya hospitals.
The Patron for the New Life Hospice Arua, Dr Jascinto Amandu, said: “We still have challenge where patients report late to the health centers or the referral hospital. This makes it difficult to follow and take care of them. West Nile still has a lot of disease burden which needs proper research.”
“Through Palliative care, we shall also look at families especially for the patients who have died. We need to give hope to the patients who are suffering in pain. With the Palliative unit, it will also provide a training opportunity at the unit for the people of West Nile. Although, we are also in talks with Muni University to offer courses related to Palliative care as party of their science subjects.”
And currently, there are 370 patients undergoing palliative care support the hospital. Unfortunately, out of the 2,585, about 722 have died due to various illnesses like cancer, liver diseases, abdominal tract infections and sickle cell. And 69 patients were discharged. But the Nurses are worried that 1,424 patients have been lost contacts making follow-up difficult.
Statistics from Arua Regional Referral hospital indicate that the highest cases of patients are suffering from Cancer. Ms Grace Adiru, who earlier received palliative care after she was diagnosed with cancer, said: “I had to undergo extensive radiotherapy. And as I was struggling with some ongoing pain, my doctor suggested I see the palliative care team to help manage the pain so that I could cope better with the next steps of cancer treatment. I felt some relief due to counseling and the drugs I received.”
Sr Lucy Agaboru, the Nursing Officer in charge Palliative Care at Arua Regional Referral hospital, explained that: “It (Palliative care) is a way of helping the sick people to manage the pain using spiritual, social, physical and psychological support. And we usually administer drugs that can subdue the pain that some patients undergoing through. We also need to work hard to reduce cases of people who run away and cannot be traced.