In Zambia, a Hospice that Actually Discharges Patients

Mike Hill, CRS’ communications officer for sub-Saharan Africa (based at our World Headquarters in Baltimore), writes from Zambia, where he is visiting CRS projects:

St. Joseph’s Hospice in Lusaka does something such institutions rarely do in the United States—it discharges patients.

The hospice offers a service common in America but rare in Africa: palliative care for those approaching death, including psychological and spiritual counseling as well as pain relief, though the most effective drug, morphine, is very hard to come by in this country.

The hospice, open only a few months in a brand new building, has its operation expenses paid by CRS. Other aid organizations have joined forces to get the hospice up and running, but its hospital beds are still enroute from Australia, so it is making do with the 11 beds it scrounged up. When fully operational, it will have room for 33.

Adminstrator Christina Phiri says that since opening in April, six of its clients have died. But eight have been sent back home in relative health. That’s because they arrived in what appeared to be the last stages of AIDS, but at the hospice were put on antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the first time. It got their disease under control.

This is just one more example of how ART, the so-called AIDS drug cocktail, is bringing hope and health to the many on this continent who were condemned to certain death only a few years ago.

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