In a previous HIFA message Vedant Jha asked ‘What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the quality of care of Cancer patients? (both palliative/ hospice and hospital-based)’. This paper in the WHO Bulletin (August) looks at the situation in Africa. Even before the pandemic, ‘only 5–11% of people [in Africa] requiring palliative care had access’.

In our recent review of African COVID-19 case management guidelines, we found few palliative care approaches and a focus on clinical management to the neglect of important psychosocial and spiritual stressors affecting morbidity and outcomes… Community outreach efforts to improve access to palliative care have been suspended. Furthermore, COVID-19 restrictions that hinder appropriate care delivery to the dying add to the distress of patients and their families, while social distancing and the ban on group gatherings disrupt the normal experience of grief and communal bereavement practices…

‘African institutions must rapidly expand palliative care training to health-care professionals outside palliative care services and support the training with clear, comprehensive case management guidelines focused on palliative care…more