14 November 2017

Nigeria: Stakeholders Advocate Palliative Care for Cancer Patients

... trains 100 nurses, doctors

With over 2 million cancer patients and the highest mortality rate in Africa, stakeholders in cancer care and support have called for urgent attention in addressing issues with end of life care and improved palliative care for dying cancer patients in the country.

The stakeholders who regretted that the subject and acceptance of death and dying is still very much a taboo in Nigeria even within the hospital, said ignorance has continued to fuel late presentation of patients.

Meanwhile, no fewer than 100 Nigerian nurses and doctors have been trained on palliative care for cancer patients in Nigeria by Bricon Foundation in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, United Kingdom (UK) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Total and partners.

Speaking during the training in Lagos last week, the Co-founder, Bricon Foundation, Mrs. Abigail Simon-Hart said it was crucial for nurses and doctors dealing with patients who are suffering from end-stage cancer, to be equipped both mentally and adequately.

Most patients with end- stage cancer suffer from various symptoms during the last months of life such as fatigue, weakness, pain, shortness of breath and cough among others, which could be severe thereby impairing their quality of life, hence, the need for improved symptom management by healthcare experts.

"Cancer patients suffer from severe symptoms at the end of life, which emotionally affects their family members or close ones, and has remained a significant problem, as inadequacies in symptom management have impaired efforts to improve care of the dying patients."

On her part, visiting Ambassador of Macmillan Cancer Support, UK, Sarah Cost noted that palliative end of life care have become significant to enable the cancer patients die with dignity and peace which is inevitable.

She said proper care of dying patients would ease the pains of loved ones and family members and even when death occurs, they will feel relived, without carrying the emotional burden of the death circumstance.

"Palliative care in most cases could help the patients overcome the disease, as some could live a longer life, with the survival dependent on their mental strength to fight the disease.

Speaking, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who was represented by the state Cancer Control Coordinator, Mrs. Abosede Wellington, acknowledged that palliative care was lacking in the healthcare curriculum, hence, the need for the training.

Noting that the palliative care would increase life expectancy as well as reduce burden of the disease, he said: "End of life and palliative care for terminal diseases is one area we need to address in our health system, this helps patients who have been diagnosed and are in their end stage to feel relieved."

On his part, representative of the Funders of the training workshop, Executive General Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Total Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited, Engr. Vincent Nnadi explained that the training of the 100 nurses and doctors was designed to be the pilot project declared the determination of the organisation to do more in management and treatment of cancer in the country.

Nnadi said the training was designed to improve survivorship of cancer patients through access to appropriately equipped healthcare facilities and well trained personnel.

Lamenting that Nigeria currently has the worst death rate in cancer in Africa, he said the NNPC and Total and partners have been engaged in healthcare awareness screening campaigns to prevent cancer, among other diseases.

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