CONTINUITY OF CANCER CARE AMONG CHILDREN LIVING WITH PALLIATIVE CARE NEEDS.

Despite the disruptions brought about by the coronavirus restrictions on transport, the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU) found ways to ensure that it continued to support hospices and palliative care centers to offer the much-needed services to cancer patients.

People with cancer are among those at high risk of contracting coronavirus and progressing to severe symptoms, with high chances of fatality. However, the 2-month-long lockdown meant that cancer patients in need of palliative care management could no longer move to clinics and vice-versa.

For many cancer patients, this situation has been a living nightmare as they faced not only the threat of COVID-19, the pressure of lockdown restrictions but also intense uncertainty regarding the future of their cancer treatment and its associated outcomes. The situation was even worse when it came to children affected with cancer and their care givers.

In a bid to ensure continuity in the provision of care, PCAU has been providing emergency funds to some its member organizations and palliative care units across the country, among other innovative ways, to facilitate transportation of children with cancer to access medical care.

In the case of Kitagata Hospital palliative care unit in Sheema district, PCAU was able to disburse funds to help in transportation of children with cancer for continuity of care and to improve their quality of life amidst the lockdown since most of them were deteriorating due to transport challenges.

In the month of April and May, Kitagata Palliative Care Unit transported about fifteen children with cancer whose appointment dates were due. The children suffer from conditions like Cancer of the ear, Leukemia, Wilm’s tumor, Retinoblastoma, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Sickle Cells disease.

Catherine Nakasita a Nursing Officer and palliative care focal person at the hospital appreciated PCAU for supporting Kitagata Hospital palliative care unit and noted that there is need for more support to continue making an impact in the children’s lives.

The restrictions by the government on movement caused a lot of challenges especially to patients from upcountry who were unable to travel to Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala for treatment, including those that had appointments. However, the different hospices and palliative care units across the country continued to deal with unique challenges to devise ways to continue supporting the patients to go through their course of treatment and improve their quality of life.

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