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Uganda’s Draft National Palliative Care Policy endorsed by the Senior Management Committee of the Ministry of Health

Author: Fatia Kiyange, Programmes Director, African Palliative Care Association
09 February 2015
  • Palliative care providers with Dr Jacinta, Desk Officer for PC after the endorsement of the draft policy by the SMC

It was very exciting to get the draft national palliative care policy endorsed by the Senior Management Committee (SMC) of the Ministry of Health on 29th January 2015.

This means that the policy will now be presented to the Health Policy Analysis Committee (HPAC), for the next approval level. The draft policy was presented by Dr Jacinta Sabiiti, Desk Officer for Palliative care in the Ministry of Health. The meeting was attended by more than 30 people including members of the SMC of the Ministry of Health and other officials interested in palliative care. Palliative care advocates, service providers and educators were invited to the SMC of the Ministry to witness the presentation of the draft policy as well as technically support the desk officer with any clarifications. Palliative care organizations represented included: the African Palliative Care Association (APCA), Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU), Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU), Mildmay Uganda, Makerere Palliative Care Unit and Kawempe Home Care.

It was so re-assuring to listen to the chairman of the SMC noting that all ingredients of a policy were taken care of and that the draft palliative care policy was  very clear. As the SMC was satisfied with the policy, they endorsed it with minor additions. Plans are now underway to present the policy to the Health Policy Advisory Committee for further approval. This endorsement of the policy follows an initial review by the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Ministry of Health in November 2014, where recommendations and adjustments were made in preparation for its presentation to the SMC.

As a strategy for further advocacy, members of the SMC of the Ministry of Health were provided with the May 2014 World Health Assembly Resolution on palliative care. The resolution outlines the key elements that should guide Governments in strengthening palliative care as a component of comprehensive care throughout the life course. The development and implementation of palliative care policies is one of the nine elements.

The development of a national palliative care policy for Uganda is funded by the American Cancer Society through the African Palliative Care Association (APCA). APCA is working collaboratively with the Ministry of Health, PCAU and all stakeholders to see the policy to final cabinet approval. The palliative care policy is expected to provide a framework for standardized implementation of palliative care services in the country. It is also expected to attract Government’s financial investment towards the provision of palliative care services to cancer patients and their families as well as those with other life limiting illnesses.

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