Award-winning short documentary 'Okuyamba' to screen at Hesburgh Center

Author: Notre Dame News


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“Okuyamba,” a locally produced award-winning short documentary about palliative care in Uganda, will be shown in the auditorium of the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Center for International Studies at 6 p.m. March 21 (Wednesday).

The film, which will be honored this month by the National Hospice Foundation with the Zachary Morfogen Art of Caring Award, is directed by Ted Mandell, a faculty member in Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre (FTT), and Mike Wargo of the Hospice Foundation. It follows the work of Rose Kiwanuka, Uganda’s first palliative care nurse, as she and other palliative care professionals journey through rural Uganda to provide care for dying patients with limited access to health care. Also featured in the film are Dr. Anne Merriman, the founder of the African palliative care movement; and Dr. Faith Mwangi-Powell, director of the African Palliative Care Association.

Palliative care offers pain management and symptom control for people facing life-limiting illnesses, such as AIDS and cancer. While HIV prevention and rising cancer rates in Africa have rightfully received a great deal of attention, the need for palliative care for those already coping with these diseases is critical due to extremely low accessibility to curative health care options. The film offers a glimpse into the lives of those receiving palliative care and their caregivers, who are often their young children.

A number of partnerships were involved in the making of the film, both literally and figuratively. The Hospice Foundation, along with The Center for Hospice and Palliative Care, have partnered with the Palliative Care Association of Uganda since 2008 to offer support for its initiatives to promote palliative care provision and the education of palliative care professionals to serve the country’s population of more than 33 million people. Uganda, where life expectancy is 52 and the median age is 15, was the first country in the world to authorize these specially trained nurses and clinical officers to prescribe morphine. To date, Hospice Africa Uganda has trained 120 prescribers at its facilities in Kampala through its nine-month clinical palliative care program.

The evening will wrap up with a question and answer session with Kiwanuka and the filmmakers. A reception will follow at 7:15. Sponsors for the event include the Ruth M. Hillebrand Center for Compassionate Care in Medicine; Hospice Foundation; Kellogg Institute for International Studies; Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity; FTT; and Eck Institute for Global Health.

Contact: Cyndy Searfoss, Hospice Foundation, 574-277-4203,