Palliative care (or supportive care) is care that focuses on relieving symptoms caused by serious illnesses like cancer. It can be given at any point during a person’s illness to help them feel more comfortable.

The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat, as early as possible, the symptoms and side effects of the disease and its treatment, in addition to the related psychological, social, and spiritual problems. The goal is not to cure. Palliative care is also called comfort care, supportive care, and symptom management.

Palliative care is given throughout a patient’s experience with cancer. It should begin at diagnosis and continue through treatment, follow-up care, and the end of life.

Hospice & Palliative Care

Although hospice care has the same principles of comfort and support, palliative care is offered earlier in the disease process. A person’s cancer treatment continues to be administered and assessed while he or she is receiving palliative care. Hospice care is a form of palliative care that is given to a person when cancer therapies are no longer controlling the disease. It focuses on caring, not curing. When a person has a terminal diagnosis (usually defined as having a life expectancy of 6 months or less) and is approaching the end of life, he or she might be eligible to receive hospice care.

As part of Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) & Pfizer funded programme, Project PINK BLUE partners with a number of palliative care and hospice homes. If you or your family member needs a hospice service or palliative care, please don’t hesitate to contact us: call 08000CANCER or 08188 347 020.  You can also email: info@projectpinkblue.org

Palliative care in Nigeria

Nigeria is one dodgy religious country. Apart from persons caught-up with old age and did not have extended family members to take care of them, many persons who are unfortunate to be befell by terminal diseases, attribute their predicaments to being spiritual.

Such statement like, “God forbid, it is not my portion to suffer this disease”, “Holy Ghost fire”, are often heard among patients. Coupled with aboriginal philosophies, victims relent from going to visit experts. Many would rather prefer going to their religious organisations in what they call, “For divine healing”, instead of going for palliative rather than elusive curative approach. Many Nigerians, though, support this thinking, because it was said by the authorities that the toughest pain medication, which had been advocated for dealing with harsh pain in terminal illness is at-present, not readily accessible in the country.

“One major hindrance in rendering palliative care in our environment is the taboo of speaking of an impending death. There seems to be a culture of “death denial” among patients, their relatives, and healthcare professionals. The Igbo of Eastern Nigeria have a culture of celebrating life (“Ndu bu isi”), while despising and fearing death, especially if the dead was younger than 60 years. Where death is accepted, Nigerians prefer natural prolongation of the dying process and want to be at home so that they can make their peace, say farewell, and give final instructions to immediate relatives. Hence one finds that many terminally ill keep away from medical treatment for fear of hospitalization,”.

It has been reported that only six tertiary hospitals in Nigeria provides palliative care services. Clearly, more action is needed to strengthen the palliative care needs in Nigeria considering that most people diagnosed with cancer present late stages/metastatic disease.

References

National Cancer Institute (2010) Palliative Care in Cancer. Accessed: March 19, 2017. Source:https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/advanced-cancer/care-choices/palliative-care-fact-sheet

Onwumere, O. (2013) Perils Of Operating Palliative Care In Nigeria. Access March, 17, 2015. Source:

http://nigerianobservernews.com/16082013/features/features7.html#.VRUDKI51zLU