Makerere University has celebrated the graduation of the inaugural cohort from the Master’s Degree program in palliative care. Palliative care is a specialized form of medical assistance, focuses on alleviating symptoms and distress associated with severe illnesses, particularly those of a life-threatening nature.
The core objective is to enhance the overall quality of life for patients and their families by addressing physical, emotional, and psychological needs.
The graduates, hailing from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda, pursued their studies at the Hospice Africa Uganda Institute in Makindye, affiliated with Makerere University.
James Natuhwera, a representative and specialist in palliative care, shared his experience, revealing the gaps in his medical school training regarding the management of chronic illnesses such as cancer. He emphasized the need to advance his career to enhance expertise and communication, aiming to empower patients to manage chronic conditions with minimal pain.
Natuhwera highlighted the deficiency of hands-on skills in palliative care among undergraduate doctors and nurses, emphasizing the necessity of addressing this gap.
Joyce Zalwango, the Capacity Building Manager at the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU), drew attention to the scarcity of advocates for palliative care policies at higher levels. She encouraged the graduates to utilize their newly acquired skills to champion for palliative care services across all levels of healthcare.
Kevin Colgan, the Irish Ambassador to Uganda, praised the efforts of Hospice Uganda Ireland in supporting the education of students in Uganda and throughout Africa, facilitating the acquisition of enhanced skills in palliative care services.
Colgan underscored the significance of recognizing and celebrating such contributions from organizations like Hospice Uganda Ireland.
Prof Dr. Anne Merriman, the pioneer of palliative care in Africa, expressed satisfaction that doctors are increasingly acknowledging the crucial role of palliative care nurses.
She emphasized that the knowledge gained by the graduates would enable them to make significant contributions in their respective countries. Merriman highlighted the positive trend of several countries beginning to prioritize palliative care.
The graduation ceremony not only marked the academic achievements of the students but also served as a platform to raise awareness about the importance of palliative care and the need for continued efforts to integrate it into healthcare systems across the African continent.