The International Day of Families is observed on the 15th of May every year. This year’s theme is “Families, education and well-being”
In a hospital in the United States the meals are provided for patients, (no matter what the reputation of hospital food may be) and the hospital provides the ever fashionable but always clean hospital gowns. However, in a hospital in Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania and elsewhere, a family member is responsible to prepare the meals for the patient and to do their laundry. The hospitals may have a designated area for a family member to do so, and it is not uncommon to find someone with a mat sleeping beside, or under the hospital bed. This person has left their job and responsibilities to accompany the patient for the duration of their hospital stay.
When making rounds the Mission Doctors often get to know the family members and have the opportunity to discuss what will happen when their family member goes home, what will be needed going forward.
Studies here have shown reduced time in hospital and improved outcome for patients when there is family member involved directly.
While it is out of necessity that this is a reality in so many places, we too can help our family members dealing with health issues by being part of their support system. We can educate ourselves about the challenges they are facing.
Families everywhere face different challenges. We pray for all families, may they be a source of support and comfort during difficult times and celebrate together their blessings.