Doctors, Nurses get training on pain management

By Olabisi Akinbode

The University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, is training some doctors, nurses and other staffers on pain management to equip them to assess the condition and provide high-quality first line treatment.

Dr Adefemi Afolabi, Staff Champion Coordinator of the Pain-Free Hospital Initiative (PFHI), made the disclosure to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Ibadan.

Afolabi, an endocrine surgeon, said the programme was being conducted in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the American Cancer Society.

According to him, the goal of PFHI is to equip staff to assess pain, provide high-quality first line treatment to improve on the overall access to essential pain medication in Nigeria.

He said that to effectively implement pain management in a healthcare system required more than just access to medicines.

“It requires an understanding of when and how to give pain medication and prioritisation of pain management as an essential part of care.

“Over the course of one year, PFHI is to train physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare providers on how to assess pain levels and dispense medication.

“The programme is to stress the importance of pain management for patients, specifically those suffering from pain-related to cancer and HIV,’’ he said.

Afolabi said that the PFHI was being piloted at four hospitals throughout Nigeria, including University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, and National Hospital, Abuja.

He also said it was envisioned that the one-year pilot project would further refine the design of the project model for effective replication in other federal tertiary health facilities in Nigeria.

He added that the primary goal was to actively raise the quality of life for every Nigerian through dedicated service delivery.

According to him, the PFHI is a pilot programme to strengthen the skills of health workers and equip them to provide high-quality pain treatment to their patients in line with International Treatment Guidelines.

“The project will ensure adequate supply of pain medicines at affordable rate in hospitals and will be used appropriately.

“In 2012, about 180,000 people were estimated to have died from moderate or severe pain from HIV or cancer in Nigeria.

“In the same year, the utilisation of narcotic medication like morphine which has been designated as an essential pain relief medication by the World Health Organisation (WHO) was enough to treat only 266 people out of the above number.

“This represents only 0.2 per cent coverage of pain treatment needed,’’ he told NAN.

“In response to this problem, the Federal Ministry of Health began working with the American Cancer Society’s “Treat the Pain’’ programme to implement a broad pain management system and imported 19.2kg of pulverised morphine.

“The Roll-Out of Pain Free Hospital Initiative became the next step of the collaboration process.

“The pain treatment is an international programme within the American Cancer Society to improve access to pain medicines.

“The programme provides technical support to improve patient access to Opioid Analgesics with a focus on low and middle-income countries with high unmet need for pain relief.’’

Afolabi said that the focus of the project was to increase the consumption of opioid (pain analgesics) to 50 per cent at the end of the year.

He said that the training of doctors, nurses and other allied-health workers would increase their awareness of pain, types of pains, how to evaluate pains and pain treatment.

According to the endocrine surgeon, six to seven out of 10 patients come to hospitals because of pain, and therefore, training of these health professionals will go a long way in achieving set goals.

“Because of this, we have made pain evaluation the fifth vital signs chart in UCH as our major aim to reduce pains of patients to the barest minimum or to zero level.

“The training of staff on pain types, identification, evaluation and treatment will go a long way in helping the PFHI project through the charts.

“Any patient who comes in can begin to use the charts to score their pains which in turn will assist doctors to gauge and apply appropriate dose of analgesics on them.

“The project will be launched at a yet-to-be announced date after training has been completed,’’ he said.