Founded in 1998 by Prof Anne Merriman, Mobile Hospice Mbarara (MHM) is a daughter hospice of Hospice Africa Uganda (HAU 1993) in Southwest Uganda. The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with increased financial expenditures for many health systems. While continuing to be dependent on external donations and a few local fundraising activities, MHM has faced increased costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional expenditures included purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE), dwindling donor funding, and the halted local fundraising campaigns. This was an additional challenge in our palliative care service delivery as we try to protect our patients and provider team.
In this context, phones became our saving gadget and the boda-boda (motor bike) our feet. For example, for a patient who was facing additional barriers in arriving to his clinic, we began to communicate only by phone. When he did not have any family who could collect medicines on his behalf, his neighbor with a boda-boda spared a day each month to collect his medicine. Increased transportation fares have caused some patients to stop follow-up and care while a shortage of protective gears have prompted us to forgo some outreach and roadside clinics.
Going Forward: Families, neighbors and communities are integral to palliative care in Africa. Solutions are different for every patient and different in the context of the pandemic. Our clinicians, mostly palliative care nurses, have to make decisions on a daily basis to support each patient, in ways suitable to him/her and their family.
For more information, contact the author: Martha Rabwoni, BSc in Palliative Care, Health Services Coordinator, MHM
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