Thandeka Moyo Health Reporter
MORE than 250 000 people in Zimbabwe need palliative care, with reports showing that only two percent receive it in the face of a growing prevalence of diseases like cancer, diabetes and HIV.
Palliative care is an interdisciplinary approach to specialised medical and nursing care for people with chronic conditions.
Deputy director of Non-Communicable Diseases in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Justice Mudavanhu, said there was a growing demand for palliative care in Zimbabwe.
“Although health institutions have the right services for palliative care provision, there is limited coverage of palliative care,” he said.
“There are high levels of stock outs of essential palliative care medicines and there are financial barriers that limit access to holistic palliative care.
“The need for palliative care in Zimbabwe is estimated at between 200 000 to 250 000 patients per year, but only two percent are able to access the service.”
According to the Ministry, 95 percent of adults and children with non-communicable diseases require palliative care.
HIV and drug resistant TB patients also require palliative care and they account for five percent of patients receiving it in Zimbabwe.
Dr Mudavanhu said despite a growing demand for palliative care, there was inadequate palliative care trained personnel in local health institutions.
“There is a severe shortage of palliative care providers and a general lack of resources for palliative care delivery,” he said.
“Only 42 percent of health facilities in Zimbabwe have at least one palliative care trained health worker, the majority (79 percent) of these health workers are nurses.
“There are shortages in the supply of palliative care medicines as reflected by the frequency of emergency orders and prevalence of stock outs for tracer essential palliative care medicines.”