The official establishment of specialized palliative care services in Namibia through “Palliative Care Namibia” by the Cancer Association of Namibia (WO30) bears reference.
The need exists for a center of excellence in palliative care training in Namibia, while caring and homely
environments where patients can either recover, stabilize, or have a dignified end of life, is currently lacking. The
Cancer Association of Namibia hopes that through the establishment of Palliative Care Namibia, we can address
Aligned with the World Health Organization (WHO) Sustainability Goals (Number Three (SDG3)), the Cancer
Association of Namibia remains focused on SDG3.4 (the reduction of mortality form non-communicable disease
and promotion of mental health) and now move to bring palliative care to Namibia through our medical access
partners – the University of Cape Town, Groote Schuur Hospital, Tygerberg Hospice, St Luke’s Hospice and the
South African Palliative Care Association.
*Palliative care improves the quality of life of patients and that of their families who are facing challenges
associated with life-threatening illness, whether physical, psychological, social, or spiritual. The quality of life of caregivers improves as well. The global need for palliative care will continue to grow as a result of the ageing of populations and the rising burden of noncommunicable diseases and some communicable diseases. Adequate
national policies, programmes, resources, and training on palliative care among health professionals are urgently
needed in order to improve access. (WHO/SDG/Palliative-Care) Palliative care is required for a wide range of diseases.
The majority of adults in need of palliative care have chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases (38.5%), cancer (34%), chronic respiratory diseases (10.3%), AIDS (5.7%) and diabetes (4.6%). Many other conditions may require palliative care, including kidney failure, chronic liver disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, neurological disease, dementia, congenital anomalies and drug-resistant tuberculosis.
The development of quality palliative care programmes in especially low and middle income countries remain
critical, as this medical service has great financial bearing on a country’s health resources.
Early delivery of palliative care reduces unnecessary hospital admissions, the use of health services that should be availed for critical medical care of patients and early depletion of medical insurance and/or cover.
Our aim is to develop a centre of excellence for palliation in Namibia – while we are an organization with
specialized interest in cancer care, palliative care does not extend to oncology only and we have therefore taken it
upon ourselves to be the drivers of a truly inclusive care programme for Namibia. CAN through the Palliative Care
Namibia structure, endeavours to capacitate caregivers and healthcare workers in both state and private systems,
while also empowering family members to better understand the needs of their loved ones when it comes to end-of-
life palliative care.
The Cancer Association of Namibia is confident that through this new program relevant local stakeholders will be
united to develop a national strategy and adopt a palliative care policy (in cooperation with the Ministry of Health
and Social Services), implement palliative care in social work courses (UNAM and UNAM Cares Foundation) and
expand the current nursing curriculum to include palliative and wound care (Nurses Council and UNAM Nursing
Palliative Care Namibia will not only develop strategic palliative/hospice care centres in Namibia (and/or partner
with similar or assisting to upgrade similar units to have a benchmark standard in terms of service, support and
care delivery) , but also aims to address the need for a “specialized homely environment” where patients can either
recover, stabilize or have a dignified end of life. Quality training in home-based caregiving and rural capacity
building to aide the local communities country-wide is a critical component of our core focus. PCN itself will
benchmark with similar institutions in the Western Cape of South Africa, while specialization in this field of study is already underway through the University of Cape Town’s Palliative Care Program where three Namibian doctors
and a nurse (of whom CAN is sponsoring one doctor and one nurse) are half-way through their specialisation
Palliative Care Namibia will collaborate with local oncology centres, treating doctors and hospitals to accommodate
patients in need of palliative care services. Capacity building and in-hospital training will be assisted with by Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, and local training will then be presented by Palliative Care Namibia both at the
central unit in Windhoek, and/or through regional training efforts on ad-hoc basis as funding is available. This
ongoing drive will be supervised by both the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital until our
Namibian framework is well established.
The PCN Windhoek East Centre is anticipated to open during the middle of 2023, while a PCN Windhoek West
Centre is planned to open by the end of the year. Expansion to the coast where the CAN Erongo Centre is
operational in Swakopmund, is planned for 2024. The training and home-based care giving training component will
commence immediately with the opening of the main centre in Windhoek during mid-2023.
The first phase of the project to establish the main centre at a budgeted N$7,5 million includes the procurement of
a suitably located, level and with future expansion opportunity premises – which CAN has done successfully on 3
March 2023. The remodelling, medical upgrades and expansion of this existing property commences on 3 April
2023. Thereafter the secondary and coastal centres will be developed.
Your cooperation and support by investing in palliative care research, reporting and feature writing will be a strong
vehicle to help introduce the Namibian populace on this critical topic.