The Shepard Hospice in Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Palliative Care Association over the weekend celebrated World Hospice and Palliative care day at the British Council Hall in Freetown.
The Mayor of Freetown, Winstanley Bankole Johnson in his statement recounted that the term “Palliative care” has always invoked fear and hope in him because his sister died of cancer in 2003.
“We live in a world in which no one can manage his or her destiny” adding that even in a country (Sierra Leone) ranking last in the human Development Index a group of concerned and patriotic citizens can out of their own volition without much recognition and support come together to prioritize improving the social conditions of people with life threatening and debilitating ailments.
The Mayor described the setting up of the Shepard’s Hospice some 10 years ago and the formation of the Sierra Leone Palliative care Association as commendable acts deserving of support.
He announced that government through the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat has released an initial funding to the City Council to assist Palliative Service providers to improve their capacity.
The WHO Country Representative Dr Felicitas Zawaira, admitted that she has lost many from among her friends and relatives and she has always wished much more could have been done for them.
The WHO Representative revealed that she is a cancer survivor and that her greatest fear when diagnosis was made was if she could get the drugs to cure her.
She noted that in most parts of the world, the majority of cancer patients are in advanced stages of the disease when first seen by a medical professional – “For them, the only realistic treatment option is pain relief and palliative care”
She spoke about palliative care for children which she maintained represent a special, albeit closely related field to adult palliative care. Dr Zawaira said that effective palliative care requires a broad multidisciplinary approach that includes the family and the use of available community resources provided in tertiary care facilities, in community health centers and even in children’s homes.
A musical concert by HIV /AIDS Support and Advocacy Association (HASA) thrilled the audience with emotional songs calling for the end to stigma and songs of hope.