Palliative Care: A Handbook of Palliative Care in Africa
(2010; 88 pages) [French]


In addition to addressing general HIV care and support needs, palliative care has a strong focus on pain and symptom control. As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), palliative care is concerned with the assessment and management of pain and symptoms among patients with life limiting illnesses; it includes attention to physical, emotional and spiritual pain. PEPFAR supports the WHO definition of palliative care and has included it as a key component for all PEPFAR supported HIV care and treatment programs for persons and families with HIV disease in low resource settings.

With the huge burden of cancer and HIV disease among other life-limiting illnesses in Africa, there is a clear public health need for palliative care to enhance quality of life for the millions of people affected and to ensure freedom from suffering. The majority of problems can be controlled with adequate clinical knowledge and drug availability. To address the need for knowledge, the PEPFAR Care and Support Technical Working Group funded the African Palliative Care Association in collaboration with AIDSTAR- One to develop a handbook of palliative care.

This handbook, one of a series of books produced APCA, provides quick-reference information on the principles and practices of palliative care. This is with an aim of providing essential knowledge and skills on palliative care for the care and support providers, heads of health teaching institutions, policy makers and others involved in the care of patients with life-threatening illnesses.

The handbook of palliative care in Africa is underpinned by the philosophy of palliative care. Although the book uses internationally recognised principles of palliative care, it is written for an African audience and therefore discusses models of care appropriate for the African setting.

Not only does the book provide a clear rationale for the need for palliative care in Africa to ensure that such care is available to all who need it, but it also acts as an information tool for policy makers and palliative care advocates.

So why is there a need for this book? Unfortunately, palliative care as a concept and discipline is not well understood across Africa, and its development is still embryonic in many countries. Indeed, while there are many challenges that hinder palliative care development on the continent, a key challenge is the lack of knowledge and accurate information around palliative care. This handbook, as well others in the series, aims to address that challenge – although it is not intended to cover everything related to palliative care. The handbook focuses on both adults and children. In every chapter, information relating to children is included in a coloured textbox.

The handbook of palliative care in Africa is a vital tool for caring for people with life-threatening illnesses. Consequently, it is PEPFAR and APCA’s sincere hope that this book will be a useful tool for practitioners and health planners who are implementing and planning palliative care services for those patients in need of it.

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