Chronic illness GHS to ensure doorstep palliative care

Palliative care provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms; affirms life and regards dying as a normal process

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Dr. Appiah Denkyira, Director General of the Ghana Health Service play

Dr. Appiah Denkyira, Director General of the Ghana Health Service

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The Ghana Health Service (GHS), has organised a Palliative care sensitisation workshop for health providers to enable them to bring quality care to the door step of persons who are terminally ill.

The workshop would be followed by steps to finalise modules for training of personnel starting with Greater Accra.

Currently, in Ghana palliative care could be accessed in the three teaching hospitals and the training programme seeks to train more health professionals and make it more accessible to those who need it, Dr Kofi Nyarko, Programme Manager for Non Communicable Disease (NCD told the GNA in Accra.

According to the World health Organisation (WHO) palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness.

It is done through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

Palliative care provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms; affirms life and regards dying as a normal process, intends neither to hasten nor postpone death, integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care.

It also offers support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death and assist families to cope during patient’s illness and bereavement.

Dr. Edwina Opare Addo, a Palliative Care Expert said patients of all ages with chronic illness, condition, or injury that adversely affects daily functioning or reduces life expectancy.

These include malignancies and non-malignant conditions: multiple sclerosis, auto-immune disorders, and spinal cord injuries.

She said since the establishment of the Palliative care Team in 2012 it had seen 250 people despite an estimated figure of about 16,000 cases recorded every year in the country.

According to the WHO NCD Country profiles 2010, Ghana has 36.4 per cent of its population with elevated blood pressure, 8.8 per cent with elevated blood sugar: overweight: 28.9 per cent  obesity: 7.5 per cent  and  raised cholesterol: 17. per cent.

Cardio vascular diseases account for 18 per cent, cancers six per cent, respiratory diseases, five per cent, diabetes one percent and other NCDs  nine per cent and deaths from injuries eight per cent.

She said with a doctor to patient ratio of one: 11,494 and a nurse patient ratio of one: 1,510 and adult cancer prevalence 33 394 and cancer deaths of 10 662 as at 2012 the need for palliative care cannot be overemphasised.

Terminally ill people are real people with real needs, not just numbers, she said, noting that patients need vigorous treatment of pain and symptoms, relief from worry, anxiety and depression and communication about their care.

Dr Ama Edwin, a Clinical Psychologist, said what most frightens most patients is the fear of the unknown and reaching out to them and their families physically and spiritual is very important.

The aim of palliative care therefore is to make life more comfortable for the dying patient, surrounding them with love, companionship, a listening ear, forgiveness, appreciation, drawing them closer to their maker and a peaceful transition.

Source: GNA

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