Challenges of Hospice and Palliative Care in Nigeria

Topics: Palliative care, Hospice, Health care Pages: 5 (1551 words) Published: June 18, 2013
Jessica Ajayi was a vibrant, intelligent, business savvy, wife and mother of three (3) just 6months ago, today; she lies in the hospital bed looking like her exact opposite: frail, weak, thin and generally lacking energy or life. She was diagnosed of Leukemia about a year ago and her health took a turn for the worse. She was in so much pain and discomfort. Alas, it was time to talk about how to make her comfortable till she was longer no more. She was ready, her immediate family was ready, but, the hospital wasn’t quite ready. Turns out, they were not well equipped for that kind of thing. In this paper, issues surrounding inadequacies of Palliative care in Nigeria will be examined. Health care should be a necessary right for everyone irrespective of age, gender, religious tendency, educational background, social status, and race or color during any illness and especially when nearing the end of life. According to the centre for advance palliative care: “Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses and other specialists who work together with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness and can be provided along with curative treatment.” Hospice care on the other hand shares the same definition with palliative except in hospice care the focus is on caring for and making the patient as comfortable as possible and not finding a cure for the illness the patient presents regardless of what it is. It is applicable in disease conditions like cancer, stroke, end-stage renal, liver, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Patients generally may suffer physical pains, social, emotional and spiritual distress that often result to “total pains” but most times the care often focuses mainly on the physical aspect of the disease.(Oyebola, 2013) Nigeria being the most populous country in West Africa with population of over 140million people should by way of saying be at the forefront of palliative and hospice care. However, this is not the case. Palliative care was formally introduced to the Nigerian government, policymakers and general public in 2003. . . . . Prior to this time, a few private-owned and missionary hospices existed in obscurity in the country (Onyeka, 2011)). Presently, there are three palliative care centers in Nigeria: Centre for palliative care, at the University college Hospital, Ibadan, located in the South-western part of Nigeria; Hospice Nigeria, located in Lagos also in the South-western part of Nigeria and; the most recent, Pain and Palliative Care Unit, established in September 2008 as part of the Multidisciplinary Oncology Centre of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu. Enugu is in the South-eastern part of Nigeria. One can therefore say that Palliative care in Nigeria is at infancy stage and need I say, inadequate to say the least. What are the challenges that Palliative/Hospice care is encountering in Nigeria?

Lack of recognition and inclusion as a policy by the government Although, there are few publicly owned palliative care units, they can only do so much on their own. The government needs to take over responsibility and announce palliative care as a much needed policy for the citizens of the nation. As it turns out, government does not even recognize the need for palliative care and the already existing centers are overwhelmed with the increasing number of patients seen. Government can also help by introducing Hospice/Palliative care into the curriculum of Medical students. Issues such as meticulous attention to complex symptom control, whole-patient care, interdisciplinary team approach,...

References: Oyebola, F.O. (March, 2013). Death and Dying in Nigeria- A social commentary: Journal of
Palliative Medicine Retrieved May 26, 2013 from
Seely, J.F., Scott, J.F., Mount, B.M. (1997). The need for specialized training programs in
palliative medicine
What is palliative care? Centre to Advance palliative care. 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2013
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