Blog: Multi-national Delhi

Dr Mhoira Leng
18th February 2012

EHA participants
I cant believe it has been so long since I posted - sorry for those who like more regular updates. So a quick review of the past few months over the next couple of posts.
At the invitation of Dr Ann Thyle and the Emmanuel Hospitals Association we formed a truly international faculty to teach the Palliative Care Toolkit in Delhi November 2011. Let me introduce you to the faculty; Dr Ed and Penny Dubland from British Columbia who have been visiting India for some years but even better Ed speaks fluent Hindi as a legacy of his childhood at Woodstock school; Dr Chitra Venkieshwaren our wonderful Cairdeas friend and regular faculty who is based in Kochi where she leads psycho-oncology developments and services; Dr Jane Bates who leads palliative care in Tiyangane clinic based in Queen Elixabeth University in Blantyre, Malawi; Josephine Kabahweza who is the senior nurse from our Makerere Palliative Care Unit and wowed everyone with her African dress and enthusiasm; Dr Ann Thyle from India who is the director of EHA programmes in EHA and yours truly. Funding support came from several sources including EMMS and Cairdeas. We were a great team!

The participants came from across the EHA network and brought so much enthusiasm and dedication to develop palliative care. Teams came from MP, UP, Delhi and Uttaranchal; many working in rural settings where there are few options for care. We laughed, shared, played roles, sang, even cried and certainly learned so much together. EHA have plans to develop palliative care across their wide range of hospital and community programmes and we hope to be able to continue to offer training support.
Spcies galore
Visiting Mr S at home
I also had great fun introducing my Uganda and Malawi friends to my favourite parts of Delhi; dinner at Karims, smells and sounds of the old spice market, wonders of the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, goats with tinsel round their necks ready for Eid, rainbow colours of fabrics, momos for lunch, hot sweet spicy chai, transport by auto, metro, taxi, cycle rickshaw and then a classic Indian overnight train.The latter took most of the faculty to the Harriet Benson Hopsital in Lalitpur to evaluate the first 18 months of the first EHA palliative care service. What a lovely welcome and so encouraging to see how much has been achieved. We met several patients and their families who spoke so movingly about the care given to them. As the local health administrator (Add CMO) said about the PC team; 'these people look after those that everyone has rejected.'
Smiling or worried???
perhaps a good place to pause. Palliative care is reaching out to some of the most vulnerable who face suffering and distress due to chronic disease where the focus is on quality of life. What does that mean? Perhaps Mr S (seen above on a home visit) illustrates this well; he had treatment for cancer which left him tired and in pain and unable to work in his fields to support his family. In desperation he was told by a friend to come to HBM hospital. 1 year on he is free of pain and back working and enjoying the birth of his newest grandchild. In his own words 'my heart has become less heavy, I feel at peace, my pain is less.'

Makerere team with our new teeshirts

Back to Kampala where our team were able to have a special Christmas celebration. Thanks to everyone for hard work, love and care and welcome to our new volunteer team as well as the link nurses from Mulago Hospital and the deputy senior principle nursing officer as guest of honour. 37 people singing and eating and celebrating the end of a year and the hope of Christmas. The boat trip added adventure - particularly as most for the team had never been on open water before!!!!!So many challenges along the way this year yet also so much grace and joy. We are blessed indeed.

sunset Lake Victoria on the way home