An Ilorin-based medical practitioner, Dr

Oladuni, who made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday, August 30, noted that the establishment of the centres will also help to strengthen the health sector.

She said that for patients whose deaths are imminent, palliative care is necessary to alleviate distress symptoms that are common during the last few days or weeks of life.

She said such centres will also help patients to understand their choices for medical treatment.

The medical expert expressed disappointment at the manner terminally ill patients are being abandoned with little or no care in the hospitals and at homes.

Oladuni explained that palliative care is still novel to the country, owing to the fact that it is not included as an area of acquisition for health professionals across the country.

Oladuni said: "This could be as a result that in the time past, such non-communicable diseases like cancer, heart and kidney problems, stroke and so on, were far-heard of than is the case today.

"There are just two universities in Nigeria that offer the palliative healthcare course.

"One offers it in a revised undergraduate curriculum, while the other has prepared measures to offer it in a post-graduate diploma.’’

The expert also urged government at all levels to make available adequate health facilities and provide a conducive environment to care for terminally ill patients in the country.

Oladuni listed the schools offering palliative care courses as the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, and the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) in Kwara.

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She expressed concern that a big country such as Nigeria has only 60 qualified pathologists and 20 radiation oncologists serving the entire country as at 2008.

"You will be amazed how these sick people are abandoned at homes and hospitals with little or no care in spite of the pains they are going through.

"This is why I am calling on the government to provide palliative care facilities in the country for immediate relief of symptoms in patients who are close to death,’’ Oladuni said.