Rwanda is taking another step towards the plan to provide patients with the incurable disease a caregiver who helps them spend the rest of their life cheerfully.
More than 1000 youth who completed secondary school are set to undergo a 6-months training on palliative care to serve the incurable non-communicable disease (NCDs) patients.
This initiative of Rwanda’s Ministry of health is called ‘Home Based Care Practitioners (HBCP) Program’ started in May this year.
HBCP program offers free special treatment and companionship to NCDs patients especially those in their last days, clinically known as ‘palliative care’.
“Even if we can’t cure someone, the pain can be appeased. That’s why the HBCPs are equipped with sufficient painkillers like morphine,” said Diane Mukasahaha, National Coordinator of palliative care at Rwanda Biomedical Center.
The new social workers will join the existing 206 caregivers established at the cell level.
The caregivers who are aged between 18-35 years are trained in clinical courses including wounds dressing, pain management, physiotherapy, massage and psychological behaviors to assist patients.
“NCDs cause pain and emotional suffering that can be appeased,” Mukasahahaha said.
“A number of patients get depressed due to lack of companionship but the caregivers would help them live optimistically.”
Meanwhile, the home-based caregivers are also trained to do a verbal autopsy. They have helped identify 856 dead people who were not registered in the government’s civil registration services.
According to Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, 60% of deaths in the country go unreported in civil registration books.
Agnes Gatesi, a resident of Nyagasenyi Cell, Kigabiro Sector of Rwamagana district is diabetic. She appreciates the treatment she gets from HBCPs, saying that they have saved her money and time in hospitals.
“I used to spend long periods at the hospital and it was very hard to find a doctor because of the overwhelming number of patients always waiting to see the doctor,” she said.
At every visit, Gatesi used to pay Rwf2000.