MASAKA. Before even greeting his visitors from Kitovu Mobile palliative care team, Vincent Luyinda first asks them if they moved with his liquid oral morphine, a drug which relieves cancer patients of pain.
“Yes of course. It is something we just cannot forget,” The team replies to Luyinda, a response which gladdens him as he had already lodged worries of winces in pain, for his morphine, which he prefers calling his best gift, had got over.
“You know without it, it means pain all day-all night,” the 32 year –old man battling AIDS and Kaposi Sarcoma , says
Luyinda, a resident of Misaali, a Masaka Town Suburb, is among the 605 patients with life threatening illnesses who are relieved of irresistible pain and other distressing symptoms in HIV/TB and cancer, through Kitovu Mobile’s Hospice and holistic palliative care.
Palliative care is holistic care including; physical, emotional, spiritual, and psycho-social. It also includes end of life care and bereavement support.
Among 605 registered clients in 2018, 297 and 224 battle non HIV cancers, HIV/Related cancers, respectively, while 84 clients fall in others; HD, DMSCD, elderly .
Of these, 426 patients (70 percent) reported with severe to overwhelming pain and were treated with Step 3 WHO Analgesic ladder using Liquid Oral Morphine.
The pain which is both physical and psychological doesn’t spare care takers and family relatives.
When Joan, not real names, had her mother battling throat cancer which she later succumbed to, seeing her flinch in pain sank her in serious depression.
She says it was not until Kitovu Mobile enrolled her on palliative care and started getting oral morphine which saw her get solace until she breathed her last.
At worst, some of these patients have had their relatives abandon them which brings more pain, but after counseling them (relatives) they again get strengthened and able to cope up with the distressing diseases, and give care to their patients.
Patients highly appreciative
A previous evaluation of Kitovu Mobile palliative care service, conducted under the auspices of the Primary Palliative Care Research Group, University of Edinburgh, UK, and the Palliative Care Department, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, on behalf of the Palliative Care Initiative of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, had this to reveal:
Patients spoke of being treated with courtesy, dignity and respect. Previously, many patients had remained at home, too weak to walk to a health centre, while their caregivers struggled to manage severe pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
Some told of uselessly spending much money on lengthy trips and treatments with limited or no benefit, before they met the palliative care team.
Physical suffering was greatly relieved as morphine was available.
Patients felt helped to identify problems and make decisions about treatment. Patients received continuity of care and did not feel abandoned.
Patients received and valued spiritual and emotional support and spoke of the sense of hope and reassurance given by the team.