Palliative care is the Cinderella service of African medicine. One reason for this is that it generates little income for the hospitals. The planners/administrators therefore tend to focus on those services that provide some financial return particularly the out-patient department.
Last November our research assistant nurse at Banso Baptist Hospital, Glenn Mbah surveyed the addresses of those children receiving palliative care for cancer. He found that the majority live way out in the bush beyond range of the 4-wheel drive vehicle used by the hospital palliative care team. We know that a trained palliative care nurse on a motorbike can travel further and faster and along narrow tracks which would prohibit a 4 –wheel drive vehicle.
In December 2012 the CMO and senior nursing officer at Banso Baptist Hospital
appointed a male nurse for training in palliative care. His name is Mr Joel Kaah Nkofon. He will be our first motorbike palliative care nurse. Prof Hesseling purchased the motorbike, a Galaxy Golden Eagle and BTMAT has undertaken to pay Joel’s salary.
This is an exciting new venture which will bring compassionate care to those children that we cannot cure. One of our colleagues who has worked at Banso Baptist Hospital in the past, Dr Mona Tamannai will carefully assess the changes (hopefully improvements) in quality of life for these children AND their parents later this year. This is not easy to do, but we must look critically at any new service – not least as good stewards of the money that you give to us.
Dr Paul Wharin (July 2013)