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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 15-19

Ethics of palliative care in late-stage cancer management and end-of-life issues in a depressed economy

Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
F N Chukwuneke
Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1119-3077.170824

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The Hippocratic Oath has often been referred to as the ethical foundation of medical practice with the key restriction "cause no harm" which is also the principle of benevolence in bioethics. In medical profession, the Oath still exemplifies the key virtues of a doctor in its emphasis on the obligations toward the well-being of the individual patient. In management of end-stage cancer in a depressed economy such as Nigeria, we frequently encounter a wide range of ethical issues that arise in the provision of palliative care mostly due to the prevailing economic situation and cultural setting. Since most of these patients came from a lower economic class of the society, with little or no formal education and lived at a subsistence level, they often find it difficult to provide the medications needed. In a poor setting where health inequity is rife, and ignorance and poverty are commonplace, a good understanding of medical ethics with a good model of health care system will contribute to the health professional's decision-making that will be in the best interest of the patients. Physicians must protect the lives of their patients and should never hasten their death. In end-stage cancer management, we have to relieve suffering and pains, promote palliative care, and give psychological support but never abandoning the patient or initiate terminating their life. This presentation is a clinical analysis of the ethical issues regarding the management of end-stage cancer patients in a poor economy with a critical overview of end-of-life issues in African perspective.

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