A Palliative Care Physician, Dr Israel Kolawole, says a partnership among some staff of Pain & Palliative Care Unit of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) with some public-spirited individuals, groups and organizations, birthed the establishment of a Non Governmental Organization to harness resources and raise funds for treatment of patients with life threatening ailments in the hospital.
The Non Governmental Organization known as Palliative Care Patients Support Foundation had its members of the Board of Trustees inaugurated for effective community participation and to achieve the desired goals of reducing patient’s financial burdens.
Speaking at the inauguration of the board of Trustees of the Palliative Care Patients Support Foundation at the Nightingale Hall of the UITH, Ilorin, Dr. Kolawole, said the establishment of the Non Governmental Organization was aimed to cater for the indigents who could not afford the hospital expenses and the rich ones that had been rendered poor because of the financial burden of the care.
He said that, “majority of our patients are indigent; the rich ones have been rendered poor because of financial burden of care, loss of jobs due to frequent hospitalizations and other challenges of care and stigmatization from their diseases”.
Dr. Kolawole, who is the President of the Foundation, said that the Pain and Palliative Care Unit of the UITH was established over 14 years ago to provide care to meet the peculiar needs of patients with Cancer, COVID-19 and other advanced progressive life-threatening diseases, adding that, “many of the people are living and dying in unrelieved pain with uncontrolled physical symptoms; unresolved psychosocial and spiritual problems, abandoned, in fear, isolation and loneliness”.
The Anaesthetist turned Palliative Care Physician, explained that the non-governmental organization courted partnership with public-spirited individuals, groups and organizations to harness resources for community participation, saying that personal resources of members of the organization were grossly inadequate to support patients.
“For most of them, it is not the fear of death that is most important. After all, we all are going to die someday. But most people want to die with dignity and in peace. The needs of these patients include relief from pain and other distressing symptoms that constitute suffering in order to improve their comfort and quality of life.
“Since our healthcare system in Nigeria runs on cash and carry basis and patients often have to pay for all treatments from their pockets, many of these patients frequently struggle with the financial burdens related to their care and many are outrightly often unable to meet the personal expenses involved in their care”, he said.
Also speaking at the event , the Wife of the Kwara State Governor, Ambassador Olufolake AbdulRasaq, who spoke through the State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Raji Rasaki, identified with the Palliative Care Patients Support Foundation, calling on influential individuals and wealthy people in the society to support the Non Governmental Organization.
In a remark, the Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Professor Abdullah Dasliva Yussuf, lauded the initiative of the Palliative and Care Unit of the University in ameliorating the sufferings of the patients, pledging the support of the Teaching hospital to the activities of the Non Governmental Organization.
Members of the Board of Trustees of the foundation include a Professor of Public Health, Tanimola Akande, Emeritus Professor Luke Edungbola,a former Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UITH, Professor Suleiman Alege Kuranga, a legal practitioner, Reverend John Olusola Baiyeshea (SAN), wife of a business tycoon, Hajia Bolanle Yusuf, and Dr. Israel Kolawole who is the President of the Foundation among others.
The inauguration also witnessed testimonies from patients who had benefitted treatment and care from the organisation.