Mildway Uganda to train health care workers in geriatrics

Geriatrics care for people with life threatening illnesses remains largely neglected in Uganda, with little or no comfort and support at all to the elderly.

To avert the problem, Mildmay (UK-based non-profit specializing in care for people living with HIV) Uganda and Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital of Singapore have entered into a partnership to train Ugandan healthcare workers and community members in geriatrics care in a bid to scale up the services across the country.

The programme which has been developed by the Geriatrics Department of Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital of Singapore, a developed nation which has vast experience with ageing issues and caring for the elderly, aims to equip healthcare and community workers in Uganda with practical skills and knowledge in caring for the elderly.

Dr Tam Wai Jia, a Volunteer Doctor at Mildmay Uganda said that through training, healthcare workers will be equipped with skills needed to transform the lives of vulnerable older persons in Uganda.

Healthcare workers will learn the physiology of caring for the elderly persons compared to the young, but more importantly this course will equip them with practical skills on how to deal with the different complex issues affecting older persons.

“The training programme which will be piloted at a certificate level talks about the hands on practical skills, they will be very important for any social worker and even medical personnel to interact with the elderly for example how do you rehabilitate an older person, how do you care for their mental, social, spiritual and cultural needs,” Dr. Wai Jia said.

musisi

MUK’s Dr. Segane Musisi

According to Professor Ssegane Musisi of Makerere University Department of Psychiatry HIV and rural urban migration are complicating care for the elderly in Uganda.

“The extended family system no longer takes care of its elderly , people are moving to urban areas, many are running abroad, this makes it difficult to look after the elderly in their communities in the villages, we have to think outside the box to devise a new program which can help the elderly where they are,” he said

Professor Ssegane said that the HIV/AIDS epidemic has left the elderly to look after the many AIDS orphans whose parents have died. There is also now a new sub-epidemic of the elderly HIV-positive individuals which complicates their care.

The social stigma still associated with the virus coupled with has caused them significant suffering, poor health, depressive disorders and somatic illnesses.