By Sarah Meltzer
Countless adults and children across Africa suffer needlessly due to pain associated with cancer and other advanced illnesses. This project trains healthcare workers to accurately assess and effectively manage pain so that people with advanced illness have relief from their distress. As a result, patients are more comfortable and families can better support their loved ones.
Who are you?
FHSSA (which is based in the U.S. and began as the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa) and the African Palliative Care Association (APCA) embarked on a pioneering project to improve pain management in Kenya, Malawi, The Gambia, Rwanda, Swaziland, and Zambia. After two years of working with local, key stakeholders in each of the 6 countries, both FHSSA and APCA would like to expand the reach of the project to more hospitals and health centers and ultimately help more patients and families.
Tell me more about your campaign.
Pain relief is an essential human right. Think about it, have you experienced pain from surgery, cancer, or even a simple injury? Have you ever had to watch someone you love suffer in pain? If you have, you know the incredible relief that pain medication can provide .
Yet each day, countless individuals living in most African countries suffer silently without even the equivalent of an aspirin to ease their pain. Why? Because health care providers lack the type of education and training needed to safely and effectively manage pain.
The Conquering Pain project aims to improve pain management among patients receiving care in hospitals in six African countries. This is being achieved through the training of physicians, nurses, and others in pain assessment and management, with a central focus on opioids. Opioid medications are used specifically for the treatment of severe pain. They are not only proven to be highly effective, they are also easily accessible and inexpensive. However, health care providers hold many myths about using them and hospitals and clinics are not set up to support them.
What is the impact of your campaign?
Pain can be conquered, with your help. Your funding will support the training of health workers in Africa to provide much needed pain relief and support to patients and their families. Our experience has shown that once health administrators are aware of the problem and health workers are trained, rapid and amazing change in both attitude and practice occurs. Trained practicing health workers can then train other colleagues and encourage the health systems to incorporate their training into practice. As a result, a cultural shift occurs, system wide change takes place, and patients and their families have access to the care all humans deserve.