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African Palliative Care Association

Driven by a profound desire to reduce unnecessary pain and suffering from life-limiting illnesses across Africa, APCA was formally founded in Tanzania in 2004.  We work collaboratively with existing and potential providers of palliative care services to help expand service provision (although we don't provide direct clinical care to people living with progressive, life-limiting illnesses). We also work with governments and policymakers to ensure the optimum policy and regulatory framework exists for the development of palliative care across Africa.

APCA was established after a meeting in Cape Town in 2002 of 28 palliative care trainers from across Africa. The group produced the Cape Town Declaration, which holds palliative care and pain and symptom control as a human right for every adult and child with life-limiting illnesses. In addition, such care should be incorporated into national health care strategies, making it accessible and affordable for all in Africa.

Thanks to Uganda's pioneering record in palliative care on the continent, APCA's head office was established in 2005 in the country's capital, Kampala, where several centres of palliative care expertise exist. We've since opened a regional office in Namibia, to enable us to better reach the Southern African region – but we work across the entire continent to promote palliative care for all in need.

Our aims Information, Integration, Evidence

There are three key elements to APCA's work to bring palliative care to all who need it in Africa:

  1. Information: Increasing knowledge and awareness of palliative care among all stakeholders
  2. Integration: Strengthening health systems by integrating palliative care at all levels
  3. Evidence: Building a sound evidence base for palliative care in Africa

Our approach

APCA recognises the importance of integrating palliative care into national health systems across Africa. We see this as the cornerstone of ensuring access to palliative care for everyone on the continent.

It's not our role to provide direct clinical care to people living with progressive, life-threatening illnesses, but instead to play a facilitative role to expand palliative care service provision.  We do this by informing people about palliative care, supporting its integration in national health policies and providing a sound evidence base for its provision.

We provide a hub for palliative care in Africa, working collaboratively to build effective links between many stakeholders. These include:

  • patients, their families and communities
  • carers (both family and volunteers)
  • health care providers
  • African governments, policymakers and decision-makers
  • APCA members (both individuals and organisations)
  • national palliative care associations, organisations and hospices
  • civil society groups
  • academic institutions and educators
  • the media
  • donors (both within and beyond Africa)
  • the general public.

Acknowledging the emergence of modern palliative care from the UK, we help adapt it to African traditions, beliefs, cultures and settings – all of which vary between and within communities and countries.  In collaboration with our members and partners, we provide African solutions to African problems, through an approach based on the World Health Organisation's four-pillar public health model of palliative care provision:

  • appropriate government policies (e.g. a national health, essential medicines and education)
  • adequate drug availability
  • the education of health professionals
  • the implementation of palliative care at all levels of health care provision.
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