Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams RDHS/UER
Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams RDHS/UER

Story by, Mathias Aboba

The Regional Director of Health Services for the Upper East Region Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams has said it was time Ghana considered integrating palliative care; healthcare delivery thatspecializes in managing the physical, psychosocial and spiritual needsfor patients and families living with serious advanced illness into the mainstream health care delivery system.

Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams RDHS/UER
Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams RDHS/UER

The Regional Director made the observation during a briefing with health staff on palliative care in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region. Dr. Awoonor-Williams noted that the integration of palliative care in mainstream health care system in the country will guarantee quality and holistic patient care to give true meaning to our health care system.
?We have a health care system that is highly challenged especially when it comes to the management of terminal illnesses and advanced care planning and as a people who want to move forward, it is only imperative that we begin to look out for strategiessuch as palliative care that can help bridge the gaps in our health system?, Dr. Awoonor-Williams posited.
The Regional Director announced that the Upper East Regional Health Directorate was prepared to roll out a training program in palliative care for medical teams in selected health facilities across the region.?This region is going to explore palliative care and as soon as we securethe resources we will organize a training course and move on to set up palliative care teams in all our hospitals who can also reach out to other levels across the region? he disclosed.
The palliative care briefing was facilitated by Dr. Mawuli Kotope Gyakobo, a specialist in the field and a lecturer at the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and the West African College of Physicians.In his presentation, Dr. Gyakobo noted that with the growing burden of non-communicable diseases in Ghana and an aging population, it is palpable there will be higher and frequent hospitalization with more people likely to die in an institution.This emergingtrend in our population dynamics he saidis a looming calamity, a situationwhich calls for appropriate responses that improves the quality of life of patients and their families suffering life threatening illness by way of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems.
He therefore appealed for a policy to liberalize prescription and medications for pain management in the country. He also requested the National Health Insurance Scheme to consider including palliative care medications in their list of drugs.
Sharing their thoughts on the briefing, some participants conceded that issues of effective pain management and advanced care planning remain a big challenge in Ghana?s healthcare delivery system hence the justification for calls to explore palliative care for meeting the health needs of the people. Over 80 staff from the regional hospital, the six district hospitals and District Directors of Health Services as well as nurse managers participated in the meeting.


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