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Extending Compassionate Health Care Delivery in Africa


Cervical and breast cancer are on the rise in Sub Saharan Africa.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, George W. Bush described the advances made in recent years in Sub Saharan Africa in HIV and AIDS treatment.  He noted that some 6.2 million people in the region take the drugs needed to keep the HIV virus at bay.  According to the former President, the health delivery system that was put in place to tackle HIV and AIDS has opened the door to expanded health care delivery for other diseases and illnesses.

The diseases that might first come to mind are malaria, tuberculosis, and cholera.  We are less likely to think of cervical and breast cancer.  But these diseases, more commonly associated with women in the developed world, are on the rise in Sub Saharan Africa.  In fact, cervical cancer is more prevalent in women who are HIV positive.

To Eunice Garanganga of Zimbabwe, this is not surprise.  “While many people talk of HIV and AIDS, we are seeing more and more cancers that are on the increase more so due to AIDS,” she said. Garanganga is the acting director of the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Zimbabwe and came to Washington to discuss the integration of palliative care into HIV services.  The Zimbabwe Association is a partner with FHSSA (Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa), an Aid for Africa member.

Palliative healthcare focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients in all stages of disease, including those undergoing treatment for curable as well as chronic diseases. FHSSA’s program creates partnerships between hospices and palliative care organizations in the U.S. and Africa.  Currently there are more than 90 partnerships in 15 African countries, including Zimbabwe.

Like President Bush, Garanganga believes making better use of the healthcare delivery system that grew out of the AIDS crisis would be a good idea—particularly for the delivery of palliative care.  The next step is training, she says.  “We must take palliative care to where it is needed, to teach healthcare providers and to teach home volunteers.” FHSSA is helping to make that happen.

Learn more about Aid for Africa members working to improve healthcare and medical services in Sub Saharan Africa.