A charity has been launched in Ghana with the ambitious aim of providing universal end-of-life care by the end of the decade.
COMPASS Ghana is the brainchild of health researcher Dr Yakubu Salifu from the Faculty of Health and Medicine who was a registered nurse in both the UK and Ghana for 15 years.
In low-resource communities in Ghana, the lack of palliative care means that patients with life-limiting illnesses are too often left to die an isolated, painful and undignified death.
As the Chief Executive Officer of COMPASS Ghana, he said the demands of palliative and end-of-life care in that country can have devastating effects.
He said: “The demands of care can result in poor communities in a loss of income, an inability to work, and young children – often girls- withdrawn from school to care, as well as the anguish and anxiety within the home and wider community.”
According to COMPASS Ghana:
· 86% of the Ghanaian population are without access to meaningful palliative and end-of-life care
· 63 is the average age of death
· 48% of the population have no health insurance
· 30% of the population are facing significant journeys, often on foot, to their local hospital
COMPASS Ghana is working in partnership with key service providers and communities in Ghana. Using a compassionate community approach and the unique socio-cultural African context, the charity revolves around patients’ and caregivers’ active involvement and participation in care provision.
This approach centres on the creation of new palliative ward hubs within the main teaching hospitals in Kumasi and Accra. These wards will serve as centres of excellence and transfer palliative skills into mainstream clinical care and training.
Th charity will also establish small, agile Mobile Multidisciplinary Palliative Care Teams to work alongside patients and caregivers in hard-to-reach rural communities. These will deliver the practical skills and knowledge needed to care for life-limiting illnesses with dignity and to empower families to provide aspects of end-of-life care within their own communities.
Dr Salifu said: “Our aim is to help deliver universal end-of-life care in Ghana by the end of the decade. Our vision is to expand our activities to other African countries as we gain traction and experience.”
The charity will work closely with the Division of Health Research in the areas of research, engagement, and impact while Lancaster Medical School now has a COMPASS Ghana Student Society.