To all our Friends and Partners, we hope that you and your family are staying safe in this very difficult time throughout the world.
Africa is now also experiencing what the rest of the world has for the past few months, dealing with this contagious coronavirus COVID-19 and trying to manage the spread of this virus particularly to the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“The Ebola epidemics have enabled (African) countries to have a base on which we can rely in preparation for COVID-19,” said WHO’s Michel Yao (Africa Director of Emergency programs).
“These countries have had experience in border detection systems for suspected cases and isolation and treatment structures at airports” he said.
Health ministries are also obliged to apply the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR), which require them to be able to report epidemics and cases early.
However, confronted with multiple diseases — malaria, typhoid, cholera, TB, cancer, HIV/AIDS, as well as Ebola — most African countries are struggling with fragile public healthcare systems. A huge concern is also the millions of low-income people who need to go out daily to earn their living.
The positive news is that many of the African countries have been very proactive and have closed their borders, cancelled many international flights, and closed schools and introduced other restrictions to manage the spread of the virus. Information about minimising exposure to the virus has been widely circulated. But there is still a lot to do before this virus is under control.
In Uganda we currently have had 44 cases confirmed.
Kawempe Home Care Response
As you know we help many clients who are not only disadvantaged but also have compromised immune systems through having TB or cancer or HIV/AIDS.
Dr Samuel Guma provided a comprehensive briefing about the virus to all staff and volunteers and the steps and procedures for each of us to manage this virus.
- A plan was finalised and is now being implemented to manage the spread of the virus in the clinics and New Hope Children’s hostel.
- Increasing the availability of facilities for cleaning hands and buy in supplies of disinfection, soap and masks for staff and clients.
- Educating clinical staff on symptoms and process.
- Developing signage in the clinic waiting areas and staff areas on symptoms of the virus and reminders of how to stop the spread eg washing hands etc
- All patients will be required to maintain 1.5 meters distance from each other in the clinics.
- Visitors to the clinic and especially the Children’s cancer hostel are cancelled for the time being.
- Reduced the number of children and their caregivers staying in the hostel from 30 to 20 people.
Obviously one of our major concerns is the children with cancer and their caregivers at the New Hope Children’s hostel. As we rely on our supporters to assist with the day to day operational costs such as food and supplies, we hope and pray that you can continue to support us in these unprecedented times.
We greatly appreciate our friends and partners who have provided support to the New Hope Children’s hostel since its inception in September 2016.
Our friends from Australia Carol and Margaret must have heard our prayers as they just sent us A$1,000 for food for the hostel. This certainly arrived in time as it will give us food security for the next month. Thank you for your continued love and support.
We need more than ever your support at this time. So if you can help you may like to become a Supporters Club member.
Any donations or in-kind support will be greatly appreciated.
First Quarter Activity
Our second training workshop for health professionals in Pediatric Palliative Care was held in February and it was facilitated by KHC staff and funded by OSIEA. The Country Director of PCAU was our guest and certified the trainees. These training workshops aim to advocate for the inclusion of Pediatric Palliative Care (PPC) services in Palliative Care services in Uganda through information sharing on needs of PPC through the workshops. It is hoped to have another training day in May, however that will very much depend on the situation with the virus.
In commemoration of World Cancer Day and International Childhood Cancer Day, KHC joined the rest of civil society organisations and Ministry of Health to jointly celebrate these events in the Arua district. It was a very good platform for interaction and networking with people working in different areas.
As President of Uganda Cancer Society, Dr. Guma addressed the gathering with the emphasis on the great work Civil Society Organisations are doing to provide best health care services in Uganda. He noted that the biggest challenge is poor access to care. Also, for these organisations to do their work well, policies have to be in place. He advocated for the inclusion of a National Cancer Control Plan and Palliative Care services in the health care system in Uganda.
It was also a relaxing time for the staff that travelled to the west of the Nile where there is a lot of honey and it is a very busy town. For me the different natural tree species left a big impression and I want to go back and extend tree planting in other regions of the country.
International Women’s Organisation (IWO) donated a swing and a piano to the New Hope Children’s Hostel. An assessment was done at the facility and the need for music and play therapy for the children and caregivers was identified.
Thank you, your gift means a lot to these children especially as they love to sing and dance and it is wonderful to see them have fun and respite from their treatment.
Palliative Care Visit
The team made a visit to one of the children who was in our care at the hostel in 2017 and has been on Palliative Care since 2018. KHC has been supporting the family of Joel and linked them to Hospice Mbale for palliative care including pain control with oral for morphine.
Our young patient has had a tough life, Joel was born an albino and he has suffered a lot with his cancer which is incurable, and his relatives abandoned him and his mother.
The family was grateful to KHC for the love and support at this very difficult time. Special thanks to Lilian Leroy from Norway for providing a monthly stipend to Joel’s mother to enable her to care for her son.
Remember Social Hygiene is also Important
In the midst of the panic around COVID-19, we must look to each other to help us get through it.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of people who are less fortunate and are having to not only deal with this pandemic but have other issues; the homeless; those in domestic violence households; people suffering mental health, or those who have other illness, the list is endless. So whilst we may feel that we are dealing with a difficult situation staying at home and isolated there are many who don’t have options.
So let us all think about staying calm and compassionate. Being kinder to one and other and make sure we behave responsibly to help to make the world safer for all of us.
I would like to thank our clinical staff and staff at the New Hope Children’s hostel who continue to provide much needed support to our clients through this difficult time. We applaud you!
Stay safe everyone.