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Helping the developing world…..the story of an outward looking hospice
  1. Karilyn Collins
  1. St Michael's Hospice, Hereford, UK


A hospice in the UK became linked with Africa when one of the medical staff left in 2001 to set up a hospice in Tanzania. The aim was to extend some of the ethos and philosophy of the hospice movement to the developing world. The link has involved six staff visits from the UK to Tanzania and six staff visits the other way. These visits have been of great benefit to both sides. A description of this link won an essay prize from the Tropical Health Education Trust in 2007.

The original hospice in Tanzania has been the centre for a roll out programme, using the Help the Hospices Toolkit and mentoring, to set up teams in many other district and regional hospitals. The UK hospice has encouraged this mentorship by allowing their staff sabbaticals to assist in setting up palliative care teams, to give confidence in prescribing morphine and help in making community links to establish home visiting. The latest Tanzanian hospital to receive mentorship has been the control site in research, as yet unpublished, showing the difference that palliative care training makes to the quality of life of patients in HIV care and treatment.

The benefits of this link to Tanzania are obvious, education, books, equipment and experience but those to the UK hospice are less immediately evident. For the staff, they include life changing experiences, and relationships, for patients and relatives, the distraction of hearing about the struggle to get palliative care and pain relief into the developing world. Hospices have often been inward looking, patient orientated places that need to raise funds and keep up standards but this need not preclude involvement worldwide. This link is a replicable model that proves the benefits can be mutual without jeopardising standards or fund raising at home.

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