The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah has said that palliative care is a necessity and that should be captured in the budget framework paper. Unfortunately, he explains that this service can only be considered in the next final year as it’s too late to add it to the budget for FY 2019/20 which will be passed by the end of this month.
“When things are real and they are not captured properly and presented in the right places, they get lost in translation. For purposes of sustainability, we need to have a start in a good way. We should prepare a preliminary budget as palliative care, prepare what is required for the budget and wait for the moment when the budget circular call comes out and you submit it.” Oulanyah advised.
Oulanyah gave the advice during a gathering on a petition addressed to him by palliative care doctors on the consideration of palliative care in the budget at Parliament earlier this morning. Dr. Rose Kiwanuka, Director Palliative Care Association of Uganda explained the meaning and significance of palliative care to refer to an interdisciplinary approach to specialized medical and nursing care for the people with life-limiting illnesses like cancer. These services focus on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress and mental stress at any stage of the illness.
Rose said according to reports of the World Health Organization and World Palliative Alliance, Uganda assumes the first position in the provision of palliative care in Africa. However, she mentioned a score of challenges experienced including the absence of a stand-alone policy on palliative care, inadequate number of specialists and limited funding for training of internal and external specialists. She recommended consideration of home-based palliative care to save patients from traveling long distances.
Dr. Emmanuel Luyirika, ED African Palliative Care Association mentioned countries with national policies on palliative care including Rwanda that also included the services in the National Health Insurance Scheme, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, and Swaziland. He also presented copies of frameworks on palliative care involving the African Union Common Position where countries agreed to ensure accessibility of the services, the World Health Assembly Resolution passed in 2014, the 2017 World Cancer Resolution and Uganda’s commitments made in the Political Declaration on Non- Communicable Diseases, 2011.
Joseph Egolet, a beneficiary of palliative care battling with rectum cancer commended the doctors for the services and expressed his discontentment on the inadequate and costly equipment and medicine like morphine for patients with terminal illnesses. He told of his experiences from his health condition where requires ostomy bags for waste disposal due to the blockage of his disposal system after his operation. He prayed to the government to ensure functionality and availability of the required equipment.
The Deputy Speaker committed to supporting consideration of the services acknowledging their significance to Ugandans. “You have my full support, we shall work around this together. What I know very well is pushing people to do things, if you arm me with the right tools, we can push mountains.” He said.