Dr Kathy Curtis-Hayward
A Dursley GP has teamed up with Cotswold Care Hospice to help people struggling with life-limiting illnesses in Africa.
Dr Kathy Curtis-Hayward will spend three months working at a district mission hospital in Tanzania.
She will support a team caring for people suffering from Aids-related illnesses and teaching palliative care skills, including the use of oral morphine in the community, which is new to Tanzania. She will leave for Africa next month.
Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. Most of its people are subsistence farmers. The average life expectancy is 55 years and the country’s population has been ravaged by Aids.
It is best known for Africa's highest mountain – Kilimanjaro – and for the Serengeti, one of the most important nature reserves on Earth.
The 53-year-old GP based at May Lane Surgery came to Cotswold Care Hospice to learn complementary palliative care techniques, such as massage.
“The phrase ‘there is nothing that we can do’ is simply not the case, even in the most rural villages,” said Dr Curtis-Hayward. “I will look at how people can provide holistic care to relieve symptoms and support the patient’s spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.”
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Dr Curtis-Hayward, who is volunteering with the Tear Fund, was thrilled when Cotswold Care offered to support her. She will mentor a team of health care workers who have had initial palliative care training. It will be a return trip for Dr Curtis-Hayward who spent time in Tanzania while studying medicine.
“It is one of the poorest countries in the world but it is also one of the most beautiful and the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming,” she said. “I am looking forward to going back.”
Dr Curtis-Hayward will be based in Shirati near Lake Victoria. “I will spend a lot of time travelling around to villages where there are clinics and dispensaries. We will be looking at medical and non medical ways of relieving suffering,” she said.
“Cotswold Care has provided me with training in massage techniques to relieve pains and relax patients that I can teach people who may have no medical experience.”
“Palliative care depends largely on people rather than medical resources and will be vital in a country like Tanzania which has been decimated by Aids and other life-limiting illnesses, such as Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of cancer which is a result of Aids.”
Sian Cole, head of care services at Cotswold Care, said: “We are delighted to provide practical support for Dr Curtis-Hayward. As a hospice we believe people should be treated with respect and dignity at all times and that death should be as peaceful as possible – regardless of where they live.”
Fact file: UK
Population: 61.6 million
Life-expectancy: 77 years (men), 82 years (women)
Average income per year: �28,502.00
Fact File: United Republic of Tanzania
Population: 43.7 million
Life-expectancy: 55 years (men), 56 years (women)
Average income per year: �276.30
Main languages: English and Swahili