Describing the Current State of Palliative Care in Uganda

Location: Uganda

Alumni: Ainur Kagarmanova

Faculty: Lacey Ahern

Palliative care aims to relieve physical, psychosocial, and spiritual suffering in patients. It was introduced to Uganda in 1993 with the establishment of Hospice Africa Uganda as the model for African palliative care. In 2015 Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU), in partnership with the University of Notre Dame and the Ministry of Health, has implemented a mobile health application to ensure data collection on key palliative care indicators at 20 facilities providing palliative care. Currently, these 20 facilities report palliative care indicators monthly to PCAU. To date, the data have been analyzed largely at the individual facility level. 

Building on a nationwide audit of palliative care conducted in 2009, this study provides an updated overview of the availability of palliative care services in the country, as well as some of the successes, challenges and gaps. Descriptive statistical analysis involved non-parametric tests conducted through the use of SPSS; geographical distribution of available palliative care services was mapped using Geographic Information System. 

As of January 2020, palliative care services were offered in 105 administrative districts of Uganda. A total of 19,747,500 ml of morphine was reconstituted in Uganda in 2019. Amount of morphine reported by suppliers differed from that self-reported by facilities, which indicated the untracked cases of “borrowing” morphine between facilities. Cancer was the primary condition driving patients to seek PC; most common types of cancer were lymphomas, cervical, breast, and prostate cancers. Based on the performed analyses recommendations were offered to support further palliative care development in Uganda, and improve the quality of data collected via mHealth surveillance survey.

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