WINDHOEK: Namibia through the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MOHSS) on Thursday for the first time commemorated World Hospice and Palliative Care Day.
Palliative care refers to the treatment, care and support of people facing problems associated with life threatening illness such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes amongst others, through the prevention and relief of suffering.
World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is commemorated on the second Sunday of October every year, and this is the first time it is being commemorated in Namibia.
Launching the commemoration here, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services Petrina Haingura explained that palliative care is aimed at controlling pain and managing physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems throughout the disease trajectory.
She said that although this is the first time World and Hospice Palliative Care Day is commemorated in Namibia, raising awareness of palliative care is crucial to ensure that it is well understood.
She said the local health care system is faced with an increasing burden of chronic illness.
These diseases are also known as life threatening or life limiting illness and have placed a heavy burden on the existing health system due to the nature of such patients’ treatment care plan, which varies from monthly visits to visits every three months depending on the patient’s condition.
Haingura stated that currently, all life threatening illness are manageable, even HIV and AIDS that was once known as a killer disease has become manageable, although it remains incurable.
She added that the MOHSS has put measures in place to ensure that all chronically ill patients receive treatment.
“We do not want patients to interrupt treatment because of poor financial circumstances,” the deputy minister said before urging health care workers and administration officials to acquaint themselves with the Hospital and Health Facility Act (No 36 of 1994) and Circular No 12 of 2012.
This circular makes provision for the exemption of user fees for vulnerable and elderly, amongst others.
The National HIV Policy 2008 acknowledges the need for palliative care and states that it should be provided to all in need.
Palliative care is also integrated in the National Community and Home Based Care Policy, Standards and Training Manuals, while the National Health Policy Framework of 2010 to 2020 states that health care providers should be trained in palliative care.