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Praise for the work of Lambano Sanctuary in Johannesburg, South Africa

04 September 2017

A look at Lambano Sanctuary, a children's hospice in Johannesburg, South Africa, providing superb care for children with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses.

A recent article published on News24, a South African online multimedia news portal, pays tribute to the wonderful work being carried out by Lambano Sanctuary, one of only a handful of children's hospices in the country. 

Situated in Malvern, Johannesburg, Lambano is the only facility of its kind in the area and provides a haven for children with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses. It was founded by Lyn Croote, a former paramedic, in response to the early years of the HIV pandemic when many children languished in public hospitals or were sent home to poor families ill-equipped to care for them. Lambano now provides care for all children needing palliative care, including those with cancers, congenital abnormalities, cardiovascular diseases and others. 

The article explains that despite the invaluable service offered by Lambano to indigent and marginalised communities in and around Gauteng, they receive no funding from the state and are struggling to stay afloat. With the many demands on the South African national health budget, facilities that are run privately often battle financially. Most of Lambano's patients come from desperately poor families who cannot afford private health care for their terminally ill children. 

Sybil Coradi, a nurse who has worked at Lambano for seven years cites the most difficult parts of her work as being witness to the high levels of inequality in South Africa, depending on income levels, and explaining to child patients why their parents don't visit them. "Sometimes the parents have left the children in the hospital and are untraceable. Sometimes they are too poor to afford transport. Sometimes the parents themselves are too sick to care for the child. In some cases, the primary caregiver has found a new partner who does not want to assume the burden of a sick child," she says. 

When this is the case, social workers from Lambano are tasked with finding an alternative home for a child being discharged and, when the child is too ill to be discharged, ensuring they do all they can to make him or her as supported and as comfortable as possible in the home, including including providing pain relief. 

Resident doctor and Wits Medical School graduate, Dr Mehnaaz Ally, says that many of her colleagues do not consider paediatric palliative care as 'real medicine' and are surprised that she finds the work she does at Lambano so fulfilling. She describes first being exposed to the field as a young registrar at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. She became increasingly concerned by the medical staff's lack of awareness of how to treat children with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions and who assumed children did not know the difference in the way they were treated. She acknowledges the challenges that exist in providing individualised care but says, "...given that many of these children were literally born to die, providing them with quality of life in their short time on earth is important." 

In response to being asked why she is not depressed by her work, she responds, "I don't see it as depressing, but dignified ...there is no dignity in suffering." 

Click here to read the full article at News24 

Watch the video to learn more about Lambano Sanctuary and find out how you can support their work by visiting their website at: www.lambano.org.za

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