South Africa: Palliative Care in South Africa Is Sorely Lacking, Say Experts


As the second wave rages on, trauma and grief are gripping the nation. Victims of Covid-19 are dying in isolation, while loved ones carry the psychological and emotional impact of not being able to say goodbye. Now experts are making the case for palliative care as a necessity to alleviate suffering in the face of the pandemic.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines palliative care as "an approach that improves the quality of life of patients (adults and children) and their families who are facing problems associated with a life-threatening illness. It prevents and relieves suffering through the early identification, correct assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, whether physical, psychosocial or spiritual."

As South Africa waits anxiously for the roll-out of life-saving vaccines a case is being made for the promotion of palliative care in public and private healthcare to alleviate suffering for patients and their loved ones.

During a webinar co-hosted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the Palliative Care Action Group, experts agreed that palliative care was sorely lacking.

Quoting statistics from the WHO, the executive director of the African Palliative Care Association, Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, said that annually an estimated 40 million...

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