In 2014 Cairdeas International launched a project, Cairdeas Sahara, in West Africa. It is a collaboration with the Swiss charity ‘Consulting Training and Support’ and a local association ‘ASSIDE’. The team consists of Dr Dave Fearon, a British General Practitioner, and four part-time nurses, two local and two foreign. It is one of the first palliative care services in West Africa and we have four main priorities; research, training, advocacy and providing high quality home-based care.
Palliative care has developed in much of Africa in response to the HIV pandemic, however this response has focussed on Anglophone countries, perhaps due to the fact that the UK was one of the pioneers in palliative care. Francophone African countries have been much slower to adopt palliative care, despite the great need present. Mauritania, a resource poor Francophone and Arabophone country in West Africa, has a population of nearly 4 million with only 690 doctors to cover an area four times that of the UK. Although there is limited HIV in Mauritania there are many other life limiting illnesses in Mauritania, such as liver failure, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Through the training of health workers, and talking with patients and their families, it is apparent that many health workers are unfamiliar with even the basic principles of holistic palliative care, and it is not uncommon that pain and other burdensome symptoms are simply left ignored or even denied by health workers.
Cairdeas Sahara is delighted to be working with several local partners, such as health care workers, hospitals, charities, universities and governmental ministries. The team have received invitations to train both health care workers, and medical and nursing students, and to meet this need we look forward to welcoming Cairdeas faculty and associates to West Africa, where you will find a warm welcome and a great opportunity to make a difference.