THE Ministry of Healthy and Child Care (MoHCC), is working on assimilating palliative care into health planning and programing amidst indications that the need for palliative care has grown as a result of the increase in Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the country.
By Michael Gwarisa
Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialized medical and nursing care for people with life-limiting illnesses. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress at any stage of illness.
According experts, most patients die early from life threatening diseases owing to poor care and treatment both at home and at health institutions.
In a speech read on his behalf by Dr Susan Mutambu at the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day Commemoration, Dr Obadiah Moyo said it was critical to embrace palliative care in all health systems as it has the ability to address the needs and difficulties patients and their families endure when faced with life limiting illnesses such as HIV and AIDS and cancer.
“Palliative care provides from pain and other distressing symptoms as well as integrates the psychosocial and spiritual aspects of patient care.
“Palliative care works well alongside and within other programmes. It is uniquely about living, as well as dying as it affirms living but also regards dying as a normal process. According to the World Health Organisation, one in 60 people are in need of palliative care in Zimbabwe. The research published in the Journal of pain and Symptoms management estimates the need for children’s palliative care in Zimbabwe to be the highest in the world at 120 per 10, 000 population,” said Dr Moyo.
He added that the challenges associated with life threatening conditions such as cancer, HIV, MBDR TB, and diabetes are made worse by fragile and under-funded are made worse by a fragile and under funded health system, loss to follow up, lack of transportation to access care and the rise in disease burden.
“As a result, many of our people suffer from pain which is avoidable and could be managed with proper access to the correct medications. As a country, our vision is to ensure universal hospice and palliative care i.e we want all Zimbabweans including those in rural and remote areas to access pain management medication and physical, spiritual and psychosocial support in coping with the illness for both the ailing and their family.”
Director Epidemiology and Disease Control, MOHCC: Dr Portia Manangazira said government was pushing for the integration of palliative care into the health systems as it boosts the survival rate of patients.
“You might know that our government has integrated palliative care as a concept and philosophy for health service delivery and that has stayed until now when we are at another moment of embracing Universal Health Coverage inoder for us as a country to attain the sustainable development goals.
“So with that in mind, we longer have the luxury of the SDGs for example when we were looking at one diseases after another, we really have to ensure that we leave no one behind and palliative care really exemplifies that approach where we need our families communities to come together and discuss health and its determinates and also ensure that those who for one reason or the other have pain, that pain is adequately managed,” sadi Dr Manangazira.
Meanwhile, Hospaz and Palliative Care director, Mrs Eunice Garanganga palliative care needed financial rescores to ensure the fight against NCDs is won.
“When you are faced with serious illness, there are so many problems that come with life threatening illness. There is physical, emotional and spiritual pain that comes with it.
“When we then go to families to try and control their pain and use medicines and when we start working together, now that is palliative care in action. Palliative care is about you and I when we are in pain and family and friends are around top comfort you,” said Mrs Garanganga.
She added that Zimbabwe was on the right track to attiring palliative care. She also urged government to expedite the integration of palliative care into the health systems.