In her resolve to revolutionize palliative and cancer care generally in Nigeria, Project PINK BLUE in conjunction with her training Partners at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Houston Texas, USA conducted the Palliative Care ECHO Africa session with 18 Palliative care professionals in Abuja connected with other professionals across Africa and the United States of America in a knowledge sharing session and case presentation discussions. The forum which is an initiative of UT MD Anderson Cancer Centre, Texas is aimed at bringing Professionals in palliative care together in a bid to broaden the discuss on palliative and explore common area of experience according to International best practice with focus in Africa. The palliative care meeting has so far hosted participants from South Africa, West Africa, North Africa, Central, East Africa and the USA. The session is a continuous professional experience that takes place monthly and last for one hour. It leverages on the Zoom technology for tele-video conferencing which gives every participant visual and audio connection.
The forum is multidisciplinary in nature that include healthcare professionals involved in palliative care such as Medical Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, Psychologists, Spiritual Leaders etc. Palliative Care ECHO in Africa has a well-designed discussion outline that is streamlined to address different aspects of palliative care as obtainable in other parts of the World with cognizance to the African experience. The session is more interactive and non-domineering with every participant’s input very relevant and highly appreciated. The unique thing about this session is that it fosters ethical and best practice as well as instilling professional courage and confidence. This is true in that when a palliative care professional from the MD Anderson Cancer Centre shares his or her experiences and approaches used in addressing certain issues and it is similar to the experience of a palliative care professional in Kenya or Nigeria, it tends to improve unity of purpose and a feeling of ‘’I know what I am doing and I am doing it right’’
As already aware, Project PINK BLUE launched her Breast Cancer Navigation and Palliative Programme (BCNPP) which is acclaimed to be the first professional cancer patient navigation programme in Nigeria with the goal of empowering women at risk of breast cancer through timely information and supporting those with advanced breast cancer through psycho-social services, referral pathways to trained community health workers and institutional palliative care services in a bid to ease their end-of-life burden, encourage their families never to give up, improve their dignity and quality of life so that in a situation where any of them will have to die, they can do so in peace and not in pain with their human dignity unabated.
The Palliative Care ECHO in Africa will among other things strengthen the capacity building of palliative care professionals in Africa and further highlight the distinctiveness of palliative care in the national healthcare delivery plan. All healthcare workers should be familiar with palliative services both in institutional settings and home-based care. The national healthcare delivery circle will not be complete except palliative care is well integrated in the services of all the hospitals and adequate provisions made to motivate palliative care professionals. The various levels of healthcare providers in Nigeria should give premium to palliative care even as it made it interdisciplinary in order to address the totality of the healthcare needs of the teaming population starting from testing, diagnosis, treatment and ultimately palliative care.