Palliative Care: Providing Relief for Patients with HIV

May 2, 2013

Patronage nurses bring relief to patients, and educate families about the best ways to provide care and support to their loved ones

For people living with HIV, proper palliative care can give them relief from their symptoms and associated stress, and offer them an opportunity to live a full and meaningful life. Consequently, the importance of developing skills within this field of medicine cannot be overstated.

A recent training has been conducted by the UNDP HIV project, in conjunction with the Republic Center of Advanced Education for Nurses and Pharmacists, to educate nurses in the best methods of providing palliative services and relevant education to people living with HIV and their families. Each of the 20 participants will soon pass their knowledge onto patronage nurses within the Andijan, Ferghana, Namangan, Samarkand and Tashkent regions of Uzbekistan.

The training participants enhanced their knowledge regarding HIV infection, the disease’s effect on the human body, its stages and symptoms, and the various pain relief therapies that are available. It is expected that from this training, 5,700 nurses will be qualified to provide palliative care to people living with HIV.

“Patronage nurses bring relief to patients, and educate families about the best ways to provide care and support to their loved ones,” said Rano Isaeva, a nurse from the Tashkent region who is participating in the training. “Often a patronage nurse becomes a family member and counsellor, trusted and relied upon, and we are very aware of our responsibility to patients and their families. We understand that the effectiveness of the services we deliver depends on the skills and knowledge we master during trainings.”

The event trainer Umida Ergasheva said that the training will have a long-term impact within the broader national field. “We have a responsibility to our patients, but what I think is no less important is our responsibility to our colleagues who are not participating at this training,” Ms. Ergasheva said. “After the training the participants will pass knowledge onto their colleagues in healthcare facilities.”

The outcome of the training program will not be limited to the enhanced knowledge and skills of nurses working in palliative care. Having obtained relevant information regarding HIV infection, they will spread the information within their facilities, communities and families.

“Many people in the community ask questions about HIV, but now I am able to answer any questions that arise about this issue, regarding preventive measures, how the virus is transmitted and not transmitted, what the consequences may be, and whether they can be treated,” the mahalla (community) nurse Ms. Zarifa Jonova. “I’ll therefore be able to make an impact on the well-being of my community.”

Successfully combating HIV requires a comprehensive approach to prevention, treatment, care and support. HIV infection does not necessarily mean sickness or disability – indeed with proven treatment approaches such as ARVT, many people living with HIV can enjoy a good quality of life. Palliative care allows those living with HIV to relieve their symptoms and gain the strength needed to carry on with their daily lives. The UNDP HIV Project has joined efforts with the Government of Uzbekistan to provide quality medical aid and care services to those in need.

Building the capacities of nurses in primary healthcare facilities who provide palliative care services to HIV positive patients and educate families members represents an important step towards improving access to quality medical care to those who require assistance.

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