An Edge Hill University researcher has been invited to take part in a pioneering ‘Virtual UK Faculty’ to help the dying in Africa.

Professor Barbara Jack, Head of Research and Scholarship and Director of the Evidence-based Practice Research Centre at the University, has been asked to educate health workers in Uganda who look after terminally ill patients.

The three-year initiative will see Professor Jack support the development of the curriculum and degree programme, provide mentoring and face to face teaching via through a series of visits to Uganda, starting in August 2011.

Professor Jack has a strong interest in nurse teaching and the care of the dying. She has carried out pioneering research to evaluate the prescribing of morphine by nurses in Uganda – a study that has influenced the care of the dying across the developing world. Further research projects include a community volunteer project, as well developing clinical staff to conduct their own research to address the shortage of academic palliative care researchers on the continent.

She has been involved with Hospice Africa Uganda since 2005, which is a specialist home care programme which cares for those with terminal illnesses. It is a UK registered charity and was created in 1993 by Dr Anne Merriman, a Liverpudlian and pioneer of the international hospice movement, who received an honorary degree from Edge Hill in 2009 in recognition of her work.

Professor Jack said: “In much of Africa patients reached by medical services are a fraction of those in need. Many with terminal illness are likely to die in severe pain. Health professionals need to examine how to care for the dying, and how to bring pain and symptom control to people. Therefore, training health professionals in the principles of palliative care is essential and the Virtual UK Faculty will play a pivotal role in developing better palliative care in Africa.

“I already have links with Hospice Africa Uganda, with the awarding of my Visiting Professorship earlier this year. This latest work will cement this partnership further and I’m delighted to be working on the development of their degree programme to benefit their healthcare system.”

This initiative is funded by the Department for International Development- funded Uganda-NHS Palliative Care THET Links Programme. It supports the provision of postgraduate health professional diploma and degree level training in palliative care for African health professionals through its links with partner Hospice Africa Uganda.