Official launch of children’s palliative care programme in Lesotho

Busi Nkosi, ICPCN Director of Advocacy, reports on the recent launch of a Children’s Palliative Care Programme in Maseru, Lesotho.

On Friday 13 October a ceremony was held at the Pitso Ground in Maseru to celebrate the launch of children’s palliative care provision in the  mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

Prompted by the unnecessary suffering of children with life limiting and life threatening illnesses, the government of this country sought help from the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) to provide relief for this most vulnerable of populations. 

In September 2016, the ICPCN and the Lesotho Ministry of Health, agreed to work together. Meetings with stakeholders were held to raise awareness for the need for children’s palliative care services in the country. These were followed by the training of health workers in children’s palliative care and the development of a national curriculum and guidelines to guide the practice of health workers in implementation. After a year the project culminated with the launch of the Children’s Palliative Care programme in the country. 

Official launch

At the official launch, attended by numerous Lesotho dignitaries, Dr Letsie, Director for Disease Control in the Lesotho Ministry of Health, stressed the importance of the availability for children’s pallaitive care services for children, particularly because they cannot clearly articulate their needs and levels of pain. 

The deputy minister of health, Mrs Manthabiseng Phohleli, agreed with the theme of this year’s World Hospice Palliative Care Day.saying that palliative care is part of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and those suffering, such as children and their families, should not be left behind. 

She went on to say that, “children’s pallaitive care is special care that needs the cooperation of different ministries within the government and other stakeholders outside government.” She extended the gratitude of the Lesotho Ministry of Health to ICPCN for helping initiate such essential services in this country. 

Health workers who completed the course in children’s palliative care, including a practical attachment in Bloemfontein, South Africa, were presented with certificates of attendance. 

The choir from the Ministry of Health provided beautiful music which encouraged community members to test for TB and cervical cancer. A wonderful traditional dance was then performed by Basotho women including the trained health care workers.

Hats On

As this was Hats On for Children’s Palliative Care day, the audience celebrated the day by wearing their hats, most prominent being the Basotho traditional hat, known as ‘Mokorotlo’ in Basotho. 

Busi Nkosi, who lead the project on behalf of ICPCN, went on to say, “ICPCN would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Open Society Institute of Southern Africa (OSISA) for the provision of funds to carry out this important project in Lesotho. Our relationship with OSISA has allowed ICPCN to improve the health outcomes of children with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses, not only in Lesotho but within other eastern and southern African countries.”