The Catholic Church and its Healing Mission: A case of our lady, mother of mercy and mother Teresa Hospices' care for HIV and AIDS patients in Zambia
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The Zambian government and several other organizations tend to put more emphasis on medical treatment of HIV and AIDS than on the care for AIDS patients. As such, the Catholic Church introduced hospice palliative care services in Zambia in the 1990s to alleviate the sufferings of AIDS patients. These hospices operate on principles of combining teaching and clinical research, and they are experts in pain and symptom relief with holistic care to meet the physical, social, psychological and spiritual comfort of patients and their families. This is in line with the Church’s mission of healing of the sick. This study sought to investigate this healing ministry. To achieve this, the researcher used qualitative method in the collection and analysis of data, and three hospices were picked as a unit of analysis. A case study design was adopted and the data was collected using interviews, participant observation and document analysis. A purposively selected sample size of 45 was used. The research reveals that hospice services have become relevant elements of Catholic pastoral ministry. In addition, it shows that through palliative care, terminally ill patients have regained strength and through counseling, families have incorporated their sick siblings in family affairs. Those who had lost hope of living have received hope to go on with their lives. Hospices provide good nutrition which enables the weak to gain strength and be able to go back home smiling and well enough to do some work. In addition, families are also given assistance to help them pull through the tormenting period. Furthermore, the research revealed that in executing holistic care, there was need for every hospice to have a chaplain who would look into the spiritual needs of the sick. It further revealed that experts do not just provide services but learn virtues such as patience, joy, tolerance and endurance from nursing the terminally ill. In conclusion, research findings revealed that in the light of no cure or vaccine for HIV and AIDS yet found, a hospice with palliative care services remains the ideal place to offer love and care to the terminally ill patients with no stigma attached, hence maintaining their dignity even in the face of death. Therefore, it is recommended that every sector should work towards alleviating the sufferings of those infected and affected by AIDS.
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