Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, 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:
Although it enables individuals to live their lives fully and to die free from pain and in minimal distress, Palliative Care remains neglected in Africa. In 2018 25.6 million people were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, with 470,000 AIDS-related deaths. There are half a million cancer-related deaths per year, with rates being expected to double by 2040. Few will have died a pain-free, dignified death. Often palliative care does not even feature in national health strategies for several reasons, including:
The challenges are big but there's plenty we can do to overcome them; we just have to create the right opportunities. The African Palliative Care Association (APCA) was formed to do just that.
The African continent has witnessed significant developments in palliative care, both as a health care service and as an academic discipline, at a time when regional and global frameworks are being emphasised and adopted. The last comprehensive review focusing on palliative care service development in Africa had been completed 15 years ago and the need for a more recent mapping of the region was needed. Thus the APCA Atlas of Palliative Care in Africa was published in 2017 along with the launch of Africa-specific palliative care indicators, which can be used to measure palliative care development in the region. The 19 context-specific palliative care indicators, serve as a significant milestone for monitoring, evaluation, and the effective implementation of palliative care programmes. Download the Atlas here for more information on palliative care in Africa.