An Aberdeen-based charity will benefit from a £50,000 UK Government grant to improve end-of-life care in northern Uganda.
The charity Cairdeas will receive the Small Charities Grant Fund (SCCF) grant from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
It will be used for a two-year project in the Adjumani region to give health workers the necessary skills to provide end-of-life care.
Dr Mhoira Leng, 56, founded the charity, using a name which means ‘friendship’ in 2005.
She has spoken about the challenges of easing the suffering of dying patients in Uganda – sometimes using only paracetamol.
She said: “It breaks my heart when you know there’s something you could do to ease a person’s suffering, and a lack of resources is stopping that.”
“This grant from the UK Government will help us build on the work we’ve been doing.”
After witnessing one of her patients distraught with pain, Cairdeas organised a fundraiser to get morphine for ill patients to help ease their discomfort.
One of her young friends died in Uganda last year due to Covid-19 and an apparent lack of resources in intensive care.
She added: “Those moments are gutting.”
Dr Leng says that almost 90% of the world does not have access to appropriate pain relief medicines.
However, Uganda is now the leading African nation for palliative care.
Mhoira’s work is even being recognised by local politicians.
The Minister for Africa James Duddridge said: “I am delighted that Cairdeas is using the UK Government’s Small Charities Challenge Fund to be a force for good in the world by helping some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
“We are committed to supporting Uganda’s ongoing development, while providing urgent, life-saving humanitarian support to refugees and those in the greatest need in the country.”
The Adjumani region is rural and impoverished with half a million people, and 250,000 Sudanese refugees.
Until recently, it only had one district hospital.
Despite these challenges, Dr Leng has met many inspiring people during her mission.
Fellow medics in Uganda agree that having empathy with their patients makes them better at their job.
Helped by volunteers, she fulfilled an eight-year-old’s dying wish to have a final church service at her bedside.
The girl’s mother told Mhoira she didn’t “want her to be frightened”.
Mhoira said: “This is the essence of palliative care.
“Listening and supporting what is important to that person and family even when time is short.”
She added: “Of course, palliative care is challenging, can even be depressing.
“It can be overwhelming, but it is also incredibly enriching.
“It is about bringing hope and joy even in the most difficult of times.”