end of life care in ghana
Chronic and terminal diseases are on the increase in Ghana where many patients are not seen by the medical profession until they are at the very end of their life, even though most need support from a much earlier stage. Relatives are often under severe emotional pressure, and do not have the knowledge or resources to assist patients. In these circumstances care givers often transport patients, many in great discomfort, to a local hospital for assistance. But hospitals and local health services are usually under-resourced and ill equipped to provide the right level of care.
In 2015 the Economist Intelligence Unit published findings from a study of end of life care in 80 countries. For Ghana, EIU’s assessment was largely damming. It found that “a range of structural flaws hinders the affordability and accessibility of Ghana’s palliative care services” specifically citing lack of research, coordination, workforce, training opportunities, funding, psycho-social support and public understanding.
Proper, community-based support is urgently needed to address the end of life care crisis in Ghana - and to ensure that families have the ability to cope with death with dignity and free from pain.