Imagine that you’re a 75-year old man living alone in Northern Province. Your children are abroad. You have recently been diagnosed with advanced cancer. You know you don’t have long to live, but you want your last days to have meaning. You do not want to be in pain. You want to be surrounded by loved ones. If possible, you want to be home when it happens.
Northern Province’s population is 1.2 million. We estimate that each year, 4,000 patients will require palliative care. In the ideal palliative care model, there are outpatient clinics to provide you with pain relief, a mobile unit to come to your home, and finally hospice care when you can no longer manage at home. Unfortunately, palliative care services for patients in Northern Province are minimal and poorly accessible. Because of the war, family and social structures were destroyed, with many of the younger generation going abroad. This has left the community’s most vulnerable citizens, the poor, the frail, the elderly, the differently-abled, and the dying in a precarious situation.