Terminally ill patients advised to seek early palliative care

Public Health Specialist cum Senior Palliative Care Clinician, Mr Robert Senteza Ateenyi, addresses a palliative care meeting at Hoima Regional eferral Hospital Conference Hall on Friday, February 24, 2023. (Image Joseph Ozelle/Kazi-njema News)

It has been noted that some of the deaths registered among people with life-limiting illnesses are a result of reporting such cases late to trained health care providers in Uganda’s health facilities.

A life-limiting illness or condition is that which cannot be cured and is likely to lead to death. It is sometimes called a terminal illness. Such illnesses or conditions include cancer, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, sickle cells and diabetes among others.

Mr Stephen Abitegeka Nyakoojo, a Palliative Care Chairman Bunyoro Branch, said conditions of terminally ill patients who delay to report to health units aggravate because they do not seek palliative care in time fearing being traumatised, ignorance or use medically unproven natural chemotherapies.

Speaking during a conference for Bunyoro Palliative Care Association update at Hoima Regional Referral Hospital Conference Hall on Friday, Mr Nyakoojo warned that failure to live positively with terminal illnesses and conditions whether communicable or non-communicable, poses a grave threat to the health and life of the patient.

He urged relatives and friends of patients with life-limiting illnesses and conditions to take the mantle and assist them to receive palliative care from established public health installations which have professional personnel capable of handling such terminal illnesses for a patient to live longer.

“As palliative care enhancers, we urge different individuals who are concerned about the challenges and hard situations in life that patients with life-limiting illnesses go through to join the wagon and offer support to enable those patients to live longer. Let every community member take it upon themselves to join as we continue rendering assistance to those patients,” he said.

Mr James Kivumbi, the association member urged stakeholders in different positions and areas to promote palliative care by tirelessly mobilising and creating awareness to communities so that those with life-limiting illnesses and conditions can seek free palliative care services at Hoima Regional Referral Hospital.

He encouraged the stakeholders to advise terminally ill patients to “never stay at home with life-limiting illnesses since their lives can be claimed in a short time if they don’t seek palliative care.”

Mr Kivumbi also urged palliative care champions to encourage anyone to join the association regardless of their health statuses revealing that membership is open for both the terminally ill and healthy people with intent to taking palliative care to a wider spectrum so that patients in that category who are unaware of the service can access it freely.

Palliative Care providers in a meeting at Hoima Regional Referral Hospital on Friday, February 24, 2023. (Image: Joseph Ozelle/Kazi-njema News)

As life-limiting illnesses continue being a burden to people, Mr Robert Senteza Ateenyi, a Public Health Specialist cum Senior Palliative Care Clinician, urged palliative care providers to offer holistic care to the terminally ill since they obviously need that service.

He said in addition to increased palliative care for cancer patients, the hypertensive, HIV/AIDS and sickle cells among other patients with terminal illnesses, care should transcend socio-health circles to spiritual assistance so that the patient is soothed.

“Spiritual care brings a patient closer to the truth about a situation and life. It gets a patient from a loop of misery and pain. A patient should prepare their spiritual journey.” He said.

The clinician reminded palliative care-givers of their resolute help to the people with cancer, sickle cells, hypertension, diabetes and HIV/AIDS who always need their attention to enable them live longer through being accorded the necessary health needs.

“Bear in mind that terminally ill patients need a multi-disciplinary approach of assistance that soothes them after being spiritually, socially and emotionally disturbed. Remember that those illnesses and conditions subject patients to excruciating pain. Therefore, much care should be highly provided to them,” he said.

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