Sibongile Maruta Herald Reporter
Government is working on integrating palliative care into health planning and programming in the face of an increase in the number of cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said one in 60 people was in need of palliative care in Zimbabwe.
He said there was need to support people living in rural and remote areas to access pain management medication and physical, spiritual and psychosocial support in coping with the illness.
“Palliative care addresses the needs and difficulties that patients, in particular children and adults and their families, endure when faced with life-threatening illnesses such as HIV and AIDS, cancer, and other non-communicable diseases,” he said in a speech read on his behalf by the ministry’s head of research Dr Susan Mutambu at the World Hospice and Palliative Care Day Commemoration.
“Many of our people suffer from pain which is avoidable and could be managed with proper access to the correct medications. As a country, our vision is to ensure universal hospice and palliative care.”
According to the World Health Organisation, the research published in the Journal of Pain and Symptoms Management estimates the need for children’s palliative care in Zimbabwe to be the highest in the world at 120 per 10 000 people.
Dr Moyo said World Health Organisation and Hospaz and Palliative Care alliance published estimates that 40 people at the end of life need palliative care annually, but less than 14 percent received the care they needed. “At least 18 million people each year die of preventable pain,” he said.
“Globally, 21,5 million children have life-threatening conditions that require palliative care, but sadly only one percent accesses the services. The situation is reported to be even dire in low-and middle-income countries where resources are constraint.
In Africa, Zimbabwe included, health systems face many challenges and have remained overburdened with an increasing and worrying disease burden.”
Ministry of Health and Child Care director for Epidemiology and Disease Control Dr Portia Manangazira said there was need for families and communities to come together and discuss health issues.