LESOTHO urgently needs to provide palliative care services in light of high incidences of HIV-AIDS and cancer in children.
This was said by the Ministry of Health’s Cancer and Palliative Care Advocate, Sejojo Pharoe during a five-day palliative care training workshop for health professionals and traditional healers in Maseru.
Organised by the ministry in collaboration with the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) the workshop’s aim was to develop children’s palliative care services.
Palliative care is specialised medical care for people with serious illness. This type of care is focused on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.
“19 000 children aged 0 to 14 years were HIV positive in 2014 and only 5 687 (30 percent) of those eligible received antiretroviral treatment (ART),”Mr Pharoe said.
“There were 74 000 orphans.And although there is no statistical evidence because the country has no cancer registry, cases of cancers in children such as Lymphoma, Leukemia and Wilms tumours are commonly found in the country’s hospitals.”
Mr Pharoe said they aimed at developing children’s palliative care services in collaboration with the Health ministry through raising awareness and “building capacity through education and training”.
He said the training was part of efforts to implement the programme after government signed for the integration palliative care into the country’s health care services at the 2015 World Health Assembly.
“We collaborated with ICPCN because they help to capacitate all the African countries which signed including Lesotho. After the training ours is to ensure that we spread the word and advocate for palliative care services,” Mr Pharoe said.
He said the training was conducted for the Leribe, Maseru, and Mohale’s Hoek districts and participants would spread information to the other stakeholders in their districts.
He said in terms of the outcomes of the training, they expected thatpalliative care would be availed to children with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses in Lesotho’s public health care centres.
“There will be 30-health care professionals who are trained to deliver children’s palliative care.
“There should be national guidelines for the provision of children’s palliative care and a system to monitor the provision of palliative care for children and evaluate the impact thereof,” he said.