Above: The ED of RHHJ, Ms Sylvia Nakami receives assorted items from Paul Ebusu
On 7th August 2020, Our Executive Director, Paul Ebusu (with a cap) led a team of UCS staff to Jinja, to donate food items, sanitary materials and PPEs. The donations were to Rays of Hope Hospice Jinja, a member of Uganda Cancer Society. We noted during the visit that COVID 19 has hampered palliative care services in their areas of operation which include, Busoga and parts of Bukedi and Buganda sub regions. The staff at RHHJ noted that lack of a national palliative care policy has hampered effective service delivery, which has been compounded with the coronavirus pandemic.
Important to note is the fact that in 2014, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution on strengthening palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course. Additionally, the May 2017 WHA70 resolution on cancer also commits Governments to provide pain relief and palliative care to their citizens. The African Union (AU) Common Position on Controlled Substances and Access to Pain Medications speaks to the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances to provide relief from pain and suffering associated with serious chronic illnesses. In the condition now prevailing, patients in distant communities are not able to receive cancer and palliative care services because services are not decentralized, let a alone, a gap in government failing to recognise palliative care specialists in the health sector personnel plans. Uganda Cancer Society is urging government to fast track the development, approval and ensures funding for the implementation national cancer control plan and national palliative care policy.
Additionally, while considering passing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Bill which was tabled in parliament in 2019, we urge government to ensure that the scheme covers all conditions that require cancer care and palliative care as per our presentation before the Parliamentary Committee on Health on 26th November 2019.