Pain Relief in Children’s Palliative Care – Wasswa’s Story

In Uganda we meet a Wasswa, a child being treated by Dr Henry Ddungu (Uganda) with oral morphine to treat his cancer pain.

We filmed Wasswa in Uganda while we were making LIFE Before Death but felt it was important to highlight that although Little Stars is focused on how palliative care is helping many children accomplish the extraordinary in the face of serious illness, there are up to 20 million children around the world who can not access palliative care. Many of these children can’t access even basic pain relief.

Wasswa tells Dr Ddungu that when he takes his medicine (morphine) his pain is controlled . Dr Ddungu “Wasswa is one of the lucky few ,I don’t know why but because Hospice Africa Uganda comes in and sees the patients who are in severe pain and Wasswa was one of the lucky few who got that. So with morpine in addition to the other medicines he is now able to sleep, to play and they both feel happy, however she’s (Wasswa’s Mother) is worried if the morphine is completely out the pain might come back and I was assuring her that maybe we’ll be able to get more morphine before this lot is finished.”

“We now believe and we know it that a child can have as much pain as an adult,” explains Dr Ddungu. “And so they are given treatment accordingly. When we start them on morphine, we give it to them until the pain is controlled, we don’t have a ceiling dose that; ‘Oh my god a child can not get more than this’. We give it to them according to how much they need to control their pain with minimum side effects.”

“You know I always say, if you think doctors are frightened about giving morphine to an adult, put a child or a baby in front of them and ask them for morphine and they go tearing out the door because you just don’t do that,” states Professor Joan Marston (South Africa). “Children can’t raise their voices, they can’t tell you how they’re feeling, they can’t tell you how much pain they’ve got.”

You can also learn more in LIFE Before Death’s short film Pediatric Palliative Care

– Dr Henry Ddungu
– Wasswa
– Wasswa’s mother






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