The Practice of Palliative Care Medicine in the Developing World: A Review of the Challenges in Providing Palliative Care Services in South-South Nigeria

Geraldine Ugochinyere Ndukwu, T E Olamuyiwa, Gracia K Eke



Background: Palliative Care Medicine is an emerging specialist discipline with most of the services located in developed countries and very few or none in low and medium-income countries. Developing countries, however, have higher incidences of cancer and HIV/AIDS and most of these patients would benefit from palliative care. Regardless of the burden of life-limiting illnesses, only very few countries in Africa have well established, culturally accepted palliative care services.

Aim: This article aims to review the practice of Palliative Care Medicine in developing countries vis-a – viz the challenges in providing palliative care services in South-South Nigeria.

Materials and Methods: The literature search was done using the key words, ‘Palliative care’, ‘end-of-life care’, ‘life- limiting illnesses’, ‘developing countries’, and challenges as contained in this article, without limitation to year of publication.

Results: In this review, the challenges of palliative care practice in developing countries like Nigeria are due mostly to lack of Government policy, funding, manpower, availability, and acceptability of opioids especially morphine for proper pain management. These are the same challenges that affects the provision of palliative in the South-South region of the country.  

Conclusion: Palliative care medicine in the South-South region of Nigerian is almost non-existing, the government of Nigeria and the international community need to assist in the development of culturally acceptable palliative care services to this part of the country to help improve the quality of life of those suffering from life-limiting illnesses and their families.


Palliative care; end-of-life care, life- limiting illnesses, developing countries, challenges


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