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Driving forward palliative care in Ghana: a focus on patient outcomes

Author: Dr Richard Harding, Cicely Saunders Institute, King's College London
28 April 2014

Ghana will be the first African country to use the updated version of the tool to measure patient outcomes- the APCA African iPOS (integrated POS).

Palliative care services in Africa have been recognized for their leadership in using patient-reported outcome measures (principally the APCA African POS) in routine care and in research. A recent 2-day meeting in Accra, funded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), has established a team to spearhead outcome measurement in Ghana.

The training was led by Dr Richard Harding from the Cicely Saunders Institute (King’s College London) with colleagues Eve Namisango (African Palliative Care Association) and Esme Pudule (Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa). The trainers aimed to share experience and successes from using the APCA African POS (Palliative Outcome Scale ( across Eastern and Southern Africa, with clinicians in West Africa. 

The Ghanaian delegates represented stakeholders from medicine, nursing, social work and psychological services, pharmacy and academia. The 30 participants exchanged best practice, learned to use iPOS and formulated a country action plan to integrate the iPOS into care, as well as to use it to conduct research and build the local evidence base.

Dr Richard Harding said: “It was very exciting to hear the clinicians establishing their local plans to measure and improve care in Ghana, and it was clear that the use of iPOS builds on the training on palliative care they have received to date. The data they generate will be key to proving their impact at the patient level, demonstrating their commitment to quality improvement, and providing the evidence necessary for policy and funding support for patients with progressive illness.” 

Eve Namisango said: “The Western African experience was very exciting and I was impressed by the delegates who showed great enthusiasm in rolling out the use of the iPOS in routine care. Using the iPOS on a larger scale in this part of Africa is definitely going to be very exciting and the teams will generate data and evidence to inform policy and health care delivery across Ghana. I am glad they will not be struggling with determining the palliative care needs of patients in routine care anymore."

Esme Pudule said: “The richness of skills and expertise among the participants were amazing. Their engagement with the case studies mirrored common and real situations in their place of work. Application and implementation of the APCA iPOS will assist them the day- to-day practice of palliative care in Ghana."

Read more about the iPOS and download the tool on the UK edition of ehospice next week.

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