Dr Anne Merriman

Leader of Palliative Care in Africa

Dr. Anne Merriman (UCD Medicine 1963) is internationally recognised as one of the leading Hospice Movement pioneers in the world, and the undisputed leader of the Hospice Movement in Africa. After introducing palliative care services to Kenya, Anne has overseen the diffusion of the "Merriman Model” which prioritises affordable and locally accessible services across the African subcontinent.  Her introduction of affordable oral morphine, suitable for use in the home, has revolutionised palliative care in the region.

She has received numerous awards including Honorary Fellow at UCD School of Medicine (2007), an MBE for her contribution to health services in Uganda (2002), the Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award (2013), a Nobel Peace Prize nomination (2014) and a UCD Alumni Award (2016).

In addition to bringing compassionate care to many across Africa, Dr Merriman is a role model who inspires our current students to seek to make an impact during their careers.

Career Summary

Born and raised in Liverpool, Anne enrolled in UCD Medical School in 1957 and completed her clinical training at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.  After graduation in 1963, she did her internship in the International Missionary Training Hospital in Medicine in Drogheda.  She completed three two-year stints in South East Nigeria was interspersed with clinical appointments in Drogheda, Dublin and Edinburgh, during which she successfully took her MRCPI and MRCP Edinburgh as well as diplomas in Child Health and Tropical Medicine.

After completing her training in Geriatric Medicine, Dr Merriman was appointed as Consultant Physician and Clinical Lecturer at the University of Liverpool, Senior Lecturer in Geriatric Medicine and Honorary Consultant in the University of South Manchester and subsequently Head of the Department of Geriatric Medicine at Whiston Hospital, Liverpool.

Through appointments as Associate Professor to University of South Manchester in Penang, Malaysia and Senior Teaching Fellow in the National University of Singapore, Anne developed her interest in Palliative Medicine and the Hospice Movement. She became a Founder Member of the Hospice Care Association of Singapore and made major contributions to that discipline, not only in Singapore, but also in South East Asia generally.

In 1990, Anne was invited to be the first Medical Director of the Nairobi Hospice in Kenya.  During her time in that role, she realised the terrible suffering of terminally-ill patients in a country where oncology treatment was available only for the privileged few, and where patients tragically only presented at a late and often incurable stage of their disease.

After publishing a seminal report on palliative care in Africa for the International Hospice Movement, she received numerous requests for various African countries to assist in setting up palliative care services along the lines of the model that her team had successfully pioneered in Kenya. This “Merriman Model” was the inspiration that was to drive the development of affordable and locally accessible services for the African subcontinent in the ensuing decade.

Dr Anne Merriman founded Hospice Africa Uganda which introduced a model system of terminal care customised to developing countries with limited resources. She founded the Palliative Care Association of Uganda and was a founder member of the African Palliative Care Association.

Anne headed Hospice Africa’s International Programs, supporting new initiatives in Tanzania, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Ethiopia, Zambia, Sudan and Rwanda, and more recently training, initiators from 11 Francophone countries to suit their different health service and needs.

Her introduction of affordable oral morphine, suitable for use in the home, has revolutionised palliative care in Africa. The Ugandan Government now provides this medication free to any person who is prescribed by a registered prescriber, since 2004, a first in Africa today.

Anne has published over 90 articles and five books, as well as serving as editor and peer-reviewer on several journals. She still receives multiple speaking invitations to address learned associations and organisations all over the world. 

Education & Training

  • MB BCh: (UCD Dublin)
  • DCH: Diploma in child health (Edinburgh)
  • DTM&H: Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (Edinburgh)
  • MComm H: Masters in International Community Health
  • FRCM (Nig): Fellow of the College of Medicine in Nigeria
  • AM(Sing ): Member of the Academy of Medicine in Singapore
  • FRCP (Edin) Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh
  • FRCP(Ire): Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland

Honours & Awards

  • First award from International Association of Hospice and Palliative Care 2001, for initiating and promoting palliative care in Africa
  • Honorary Fellowship from John Moore’s University, Liverpool for contribution to relief of pain in the world
  • MBE (Member of British Empire) Honour conferred in 2003 for contribution to health in Uganda
  • Honorary DSc from Edge Hill University, Merseyside, for contribution to palliative care in Africa
  • Honorary Fellowship of UCD School of Medicine - 2007
  • Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award - 29 November 2013
  • Nobel Peace Prize Nomination – February 2014
  • UCD Alumni Award - November 2016

Other Roles and Accomplishments

  • Founder and Director of Policy and International Programs, Hospice Africa Uganda
  • Honorary Teaching Fellow, International Observatory on End of Life Care in the Institute for Health Research, Lancaster University
  • Honorary Professor of Palliative Care at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda
  • Founder Member and the Founding Vice Chair of the Board of the Palliative Care Association of Uganda (formed in 1999)
  • Founder Member and the Founding Vice Chair of the Board of the African Palliative Care Association (formed in 2003)
  • Board Member of Hospice Africa UK and Hospice Africa
  • Past Board Member of the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC)
  • Vice President for East Africa of the African Organizations for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC)