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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – October 1, 2001: Africa/Hospice Care - 2001-09-28

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was established in September, Nineteen-Ninety-Seven. For its fourth anniversary, the British-based organization is launching a new program to care for people who are facing death in many of the world’s poorest countries. The seven-million dollar program is called the Palliative Care Initiative. Palliative care is the kind of care given to patients who are expected to die. It includes support for the families of patients.

The organization estimates more than fifty-million people die each year around the world. Four out of every five deaths happen in developing countries. Many of those patients suffer severe pain. Officials of the Diana Memorial Fund say effective pain control can ease much of the suffering of people who are dying. Yet, many governments have been slow to support the development of such services. This is why the fund will begin work in east and southern Africa where many people are dying of AIDS and cancer.

Andrew Purkis is the Chief Executive of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. He says hospitals in many developing countries release dying patients without any kind of continuing support. As a result, the final days for many patients are painful. Doctor Purkis says the Palliative Care Initiative aims to change this. The new program will set up hospice systems in communities throughout Africa.

Hospice organizations give patients assistance and support during their final days of life. The program will also provide patients with drugs to ease their pain. Doctor Purkis says the use of morphine and other drugs will make a big difference to people who are dying and their families.

The new program will also teach doctors, nurses and health workers simple skills needed to take care of dying patients. Doctor Purkis says this kind of community-based care does not cost a large amount and can be supervised easily.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund also hopes to start an international debate about what should be done to improve the quality of life for dying people. The fund says that people everywhere should have the right to die with honor. For this to happen, the organization says dying patients should be given the support they need.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.