Peds Palliative Care
Nigeria: Pediatric Palliative Care
Palliative care for children in Nigeria is under-funded and under-resourced. We are working with our partner, the Center for Palliative Care, Nigeria (CPCN) to provide a community level palliative care center responsive to the cultural and community needs of families with sick children. We hope to help CPCN reach and provide clinically appropriate services to more children who are suffering and in pain from chronic and terminal illnesses.
There are economic as well as cultural barriers preventing children from accessing the care they need during the most painful time in their short lives. There is also a hesitation for family members to acknowledge the possibility of their child being in pain or having a chronic illness that could lead to death. Parents are often reluctant to acknowledge illnesses and therefore do not seek out pain medication or palliative care treatments.
We are also hoping to improve the system of palliative care across regions of Africa by partnering with larger multi-national NGOs and advocacy groups. The needs vary from country to country, however across nations there is a lack of systemized and standardized care, as well as lack of opportunities for training and recruiting clinicians.
We support the utilization of the most effective evidence-based methodology to effectively provide quality care and community outreach and education for families. We are also working to link partners with larger organizations to create more effective systems of care, we contribute more knowledge to the field with our work. There is a lack of available evidence with regards to the sensitive cultural and economic issues in low resource areas such as Nigeria. However, many of the same methodologies utilized in industrialized nations also need standardization in Nigeria, in addition to increased funding to support reliable care and consumables such as prescriptions and pain relief.
We are working to identify new ways of reaching out to the community and effectively overcoming cultural taboos related to acknowledging death and dying to enable parents to seek palliative care for their children, and also achieve continuous clinical management of palliative care from the community to the advanced clinical level in a tertiary hospital, which will in turn demonstrate to the Nigerian government, the value of investing in palliative care in their National Health Plan.
Opportunities for change include:
- Improved quality of care for the palliative care delivery system by clinicians at the hospital and community level
- Improved referral systems from the community to the hospital
- Standardized pain management and identification monitoring systems through the standardization of outcomes measurements.
- Expanded capacity of the hospital: more clinicians who are trained to provide palliative care treatment.
- Improved availability of morphine and other analgesics to children with cancer and other life limiting illnesses requiring pain management
- Improved forms of other methods symptom control including some first line chemotherapy, drugs, antiemetics for children receiving chemotherapy, antimicrobials for minor infections such as fungal infections and malaria, dressings for wounds, multivitamin preparations to boost their immunity
- Improved recreational and educational facilities for children receiving palliative care in the children’s day care centre