UTH shared ward

Green Party President Peter Sinkamba says the Ministry of Health should develop a multi-disciplinary protocol to guide end-of-life care in Government hospitals.

And Mr. Sinkamba says it is stripping the dignity of dead to keep their bodies in communal or side wards long after dying.

“Yes, it is important to save a life. But it is equally important to provide complete end-of-life care which includes helping the dying person manage mental and emotional distress during final moments,” Mr Sinkamba said.

He says there is need to develop a protocol which should guide physical, psychological, and even spiritual comfort to patients and relatives moments before and after breathing ceases. He adds that the protocol should provide guidance on complete end-of-life care which should also include helping other patients manage mental and emotional distress during the final moments of the deceased.

“In the last few months I have been to university teaching hospitals in Kitwe and Lusaka visiting patients. Regrettably, what I have noted is that whilst doctors and nurses put in their best to treat patients, they are critically let down by limited or even lack of resources to provide quality end-of-life-care,” he said.

“You see, in a hospital setting, it is common occurrence for patients to die in a shared room or communal ward. For some patients entering the final stages of their lives, the end of their journeys can be terrifying and distressing due to death rattle. The effect of witnessing death rattle has implications not only on the relatives of patients but fellow patients as well.

“It should be a policy of government hospitals to move patients near to death from communal wards or shared rooms to isolation rooms. This should be mandatory policy in government hospitals for a number of reasons. First, there is need to maintain privacy and dignity for the patient and her or his family during those final moments. Secondly, there is need to protect other patients from having to witness distressful deaths. Unfortunately, this is not happening due to lack of or limited resources. Government needs to seriously invest and guide in this aspect,” Mr. Sinkamba said.

“I have noted that if patients encounter a number of distressful deaths, this has a negative effect and they become depressed and withdrawn, perhaps feeling that ‘I the next one to go will be me’. They become withdrawn and unwilling to interact. They choose to distance themselves from their fellow patients. They become even more upset by witnessing the death of someone with whom they had developed a relationship. You worsen their agony by preparing the body for mortuary whilst they are watching. And to make matters worse by keeping the body in the communal ward for several hours or even until the next day. That should never happen at all as a matter of policy,” he said.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Right course Sinkamba but you still fell short .Improve Zambian whole healthcare system so that none of you political bigwigs have to be evacuated to foreign hospitals.

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    • In some countries the doctors tell patients when they expect to die, like when to expect birth of baby.
      But I doubt if Sinkamba is being morally right here. With these unethical Zambians those dying will be riducued with WhatsApp pictures etc.
      Zambians even take video of dying in accident, instead of helping them.

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    • Great nationalist and patriot.
      Sinkamba deserves my vote one day.
      But sometimes politicians speak good words when they are not in power.

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    • Crazy idea. Why discriminate? It would send bad signals to patients and relatives. The should be no slaughter room’s in hospitals. Every patient hopes they will well. Immediately you move them the dying room, that hope would be gone. Sorry this is a crazy idea that should be ignored.

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  2. Makes lots of sense…Bravo Sinkamba for raising these issues. These are issues opposition leaders must be talking about…real issues confronting the ordinary person daily. Hopefully Chitalu Chilufya will read this

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    • Imwe fyonse about Sinkamba is bravo.
      Maybe Sinkamba is about to die, instead of wishing him comfort you are calling upon Chitalu to build hospices.
      It’s not ministry of health, but ministry of social welfare who should be able to work in hopitals .

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    • Exactly my thoughts @Dokowe. Everyone including relatives will know that Doctors have failed and we should start prepYfor a funeral. Bank cards and PIN numbers collected and money withdrawn. Result: kill me quick!

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    • @Chaos theory reloaded. Shouldn’t the same doctors have told ECL and company that so and so will die even when you evacuate them to SA. If it’s like this it amounts to our doctors abandoning all hope for any patient they feel/know is about to die. Kind of unethical, don’t you think? I imagine Doctors instructing nurses like so, “no medicine for this one, s/he will die in the next few hours, just put them in the isolation ward.” Now, if the patient knows they are in isolation ward (were patients are taken to die), how does it help the patient with mental and emotional stress?

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  3. This can only be achieved in an environment where professionals are let to do there work without political influence. Standards can only be achieved when certain hands of manipulation are dispensed with. Doctors and other medical professions fail to do their best because of being controlled like puppets. We needs to create an atmosphere where individuals are able to do their job minus fearing reprisals. That is where HPCZ should come in to monitors standards in hospitals and clinics.

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  4. And if you survive it will be worse psychologically bcoz people will be like ndiye wenzeli kuja ku ward ko fela…Chamba ba Sinkamba

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  5. Sinkamba smokes a lot… every one knows that they will die one day so why discriminate because even doctors cannot predict the exact minute someone will die. As long as you’re in hospital you should be allowed to die or recover in the ward you where admitted

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  6. Well said sinkamba ,people who are comment negative on your brilliant idea have no clue what it means to work in the health sector.those who live in diaspora know that each patients have their own private rooms,thats how most of western hospitals are built.its was a missed opportunity building the levy mwanawasa hospital the communal setting format.

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  7. Anywhere in the world people die in wards but on one point I agree you can not leave a life less body in an open ward until the next day that’s unacceptable it is not war times or overwhelmed emergency state in a region

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  8. I must admit that at face value and when I first read the article that it makes a lot of sense and then I started reading the comments and realised that Peter has not gotten this one right. What this would mean, Peter’s idea, is that each and every hospital would have rooms specifically set aside for the dying and when your relative is being moved to those rooms then you know they are basically going to the gas chamber and that cannot be right because we know that human beings do recover from very grave illnesses where the hope was really 0…and well people recover on their way to the mortuary or even in the mortuary itself. The question then as somebody has put it is how do you know this one is near death? Trained or not? No one is trained for that sort of thing. Even for cancer no one…

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  9. Even for cancer no one can predict the exact minute. Life is complicated. My take is therefore to get rid of these communal wards, partition the existing even with boards and build community funded extra wards that have a room per patient.

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  10. I have noted your concern yes its not good to keep dead bodies in communal wards for so long but again it is not good to isolate patients to a go and die ward….a patient can be critical condition but that does not guarantee him or her to death. Ba Simkamba never smoke expired weed otherwise you will make a lot of patients loose hope by isolating them to death ward

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  11. So Peter wants Government to create a ZP or zabwino palibe ward in hospitals. Now suppose I survive ba Sinkamba, how would I consider a doctor who recommended me for ZP, a prophet of Doom?

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  12. Sounds like a good idea but in reality it’s a bad idea because the reasons why someone is not taken to the mortuary immediately that person dies is that he /she can still came back to life. The other reason is that taking people who are about to die from the ward’s can not stop the mental tourtue in those who remain in the ward as they may also anticipate that they could be next. All in all anyone who goes to the hospital should be prepared to see dead bodies.

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  13. Great idea. Anyone who has been in a developed country will know this happens and that’s the reason you lot sing hosanna hosanna to go into their hospitals. It’s ignorance to conclude that you need the doctor to tell you exactly minute you loved one is dying. The doctor will estimate in days, weeks or months or years how long a patient with a serious illness is expected to live. Peter is right not just doctors you need also other professional such as psychologist and priest to offer support to family. Patients who go into isolated wards are patients who are critically ill, can’t talk or breath independently hence they are not even aware of the surrounding they are in. Please use some educated sense not common sense. FYI iam a secondary school drop out.

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