photo: Hand signals to help determine pain levels. Copyright Nadia Bettega.

photo: A woman and her home visit worker in sub-Saharan Africa. Copyright Nadia Bettega

Palliative Care in Africa

The Trustees believe that everyone with a life-limiting or life-threatening illness has the right to affordable palliative care. The Trustees subscribe to the WHO definition of palliative care.

The need for palliative care is particularly acute in Africa where it is estimated that there are 22 million people living with HIV and that the number of people with cancer will double in the next twenty years. The lack of availability of opioids for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, as recommended by the WHO, means that people with life-limiting illnesses suffer unnecessarily. In addition, the widespread introduction of anti-retroviral drugs has not reduced the need for palliative care; patients are living longer but are still suffering from symptoms of HIV and side effects of the medication.

The Trustees’ grant-making is concentrated on the following areas:

  • Improving access to affordable palliative care for adults and children in  Africa, prioritising the need for appropriate pain relief and integration of palliative care services into established health systems.
  • Increasing  awareness of palliative care and influencing  policy at a regional and international level through strategic grants to the African Palliative Care Association and the International Children’s Palliative Care Network.
  • Supporting palliative care services across Africa through a small grants programme, administered by the African Palliative Care Association.

In 2012 the Trust  formed a coalition, the Waterloo Coalition, with five other organisations which are all active in palliative care in Africa. The coalition members  committed to co-ordinating their programmes, provide technical support and funding in order to improve significantly access to palliative care and pain relief in Malawi and Kenya. Today, the True Colours Trust continues to support projects in Kenya and Malawi which are working to integrate palliative care into the public health systems.