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Education in palliative care: Spotlight on Hospice Africa Uganda

Author: Kate Jackson, editor: ehospice international edition
04 July 2013

Education in palliative care has been a vital element of the model of care delivered by Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU) from the organisation’s inception in 1993.

Dr Anne Merriman, the founder of HAU, started providing education to both healthcare professionals and family caregivers to help them care for their patients or loved ones. 

As the organisation has grown, the education side of HAU has become well-known and sought after for learning about palliative care in Africa.

In 2012, Hospice Africa Uganda recognised this education side, the Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care in Africa (IHPCA), as a separate legal entity. 

IHPCA provides a number of different forms of palliative care education, from short courses to higher education degrees. 

Partners of the IHPCA include: Makerere University, African Palliative Care Association, Palliative Care Association of Uganda, Palliative Care Unit Mulago and Ugandan Ministry of Health. 

Short courses include: 

  • Training Clinical Officers in Palliative Care Emergencies
  • Allied Professionals Course
  • Health Professionals Course
  • Training of Trainers 
  • Traditional Health Practitioners 

The Institute has recently launched the Francophone initiators’ course, extending the reach of palliative care education into Francophone Africa. Dr Faiza Abba Guomane, who attended the Francophone Initiators’ course from Niger, added that she now thinks it is important to, “promote palliative care throughout the country, particularly the introduction of oral morphine, but also the training of health workers.”

Diploma and BSc degrees in Palliative Care provide a foundation from higher education at IHPCA. The Diploma in Clinical Palliative Care (DCPC) qualifies healthcare professionals as morphine prescribers, as well as palliative care specialists. The degree course builds on the two-year diploma. The first cohort of 25 students graduated with the BSc in palliative care in January 2013.

Those who have completed the diploma and degree in palliative care comment on the quality of the course work and the value of the real clinical experience offered at IHPCA. Francis Okongo, Diploma graduate and BSc candidate said:  “As students we moved with the team of HAU. We got to see what the team does in the community. This hands-on training was very important.” 

IHPCA encourages students to use the training they have received to train others, passing on their knowledge and exponentially increasing the number of palliative care trained professionals in Africa. 

Franciscah Tsikai is a palliative care nurse and the holder of a BSc in palliative care from IHPCA. She recently received an International Journal of Palliative Nursing award for her work educating others in palliative care in Zimbabwe. She credited IHPCA as giving her the inspiration and knowledge to be a palliative care educator:  “The bachelor’s degree gave me an opportunity to upgrade my knowledge in palliative care, so with that I will be able to impart this to others. I would like to do a Master’s degree then I will be able to teach palliative care to others.”

HAU is currently partnering with Makerere University to develop a Masters programme in palliative care. 

Hospice Africa Uganda recently celebrated their 20 year anniversary. ehospice speaks on behalf of the world of hospice and palliative care when we say we look forward to 20 more years of their work. 

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