By Louise Rooney
My name is Louise; I am a palliative nurse from Ireland. I was given the opportunity to work alongside the team in HAU for a few months. I was uncertain as to what to expect during my time in Kampala but within the first few hours it was obvious I was going to be privileged to learn from a professional and extremely welcoming team.
The HAU's vision of providing affordable palliative care to all in need extends far beyond this through the dedication of all who are working here. Alongside bringing much needed medications and clinical care to patients homes the team brings warmth, hope and companionship to patients, families and their communities . The strong ethos of patient-centred care is evident in every home visit, where the patient's life values are incorporated into their care.
In essence, the HAU team walks alongside patients and their families through their journey. This is often a very difficult path, in a country where access to basic medical care and cancer treatments are a luxury. During my visits it is obvious that the HAU team encounters a complex range of psychosocial problems not known to Irish patients. Most of the patients are struggling financially and are living in very poor conditions. Alongside providing medications HAU also provides rations of food and soap to those most in need, again, supporting people in showing them that they are not alone.
Witnessing the strong culture of determination and motivation to always strive for better days and for ongoing better palliative care services in Uganda was humbling. This unwavering positivism and resourcefulness is something everyone on an international level should be honouring. This perhaps is the greatest lesson so far that I have learned during my time in Kampala.