Palliative care service delivery in Kenya got a boost after African Inland Church (A.I.C.) Kijabe Hospital opened a standalone palliative care unit building.
The palliative care building aims to serve local, national and international patients who get health care services at the hospital.
Speaking during the launch, A.I.C. Kijabe Hospital executive director Mrs. Mary Muchendu said they have recognized the need to scale up palliative care service provision following an increase in the need for these (palliative care) services.
Mrs. Muchendu said there was need to spear head advocacy on palliative care to get more well-wishers and donors to join in funding the program.
“We hope to give care to patients both within the palliative care unit as well as home based care as may be required from time to time.” Mrs. Muchendu said.
She said the unit requires a vehicle to enable the caregivers to offer palliative care services to patients at their homes.
Mrs. Muchendu commended Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) for taking the lead role in the establishment and running of palliative care services in the country.
In a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, President Mwai Kibaki said that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are on the rise both locally and globally, attributing this to the changing lifestyles among people.
President Kibaki said the annual reported incidences of cancer have increased with breast, cervical and prostate cancers being the most common.
“There is a great need to invest in palliative care facilities to ensure early detection and treatment for NCDs for better health outcomes.” The president said.
He said that this investment is inevitable following the recognition that the cost of treating and managing NCDs is a major element that negatively affects the access to health care services in this sector.
Kibaki added that the government is strengthening the screening and diagnosis of cancers through public education, and is in the process to establishing various cancer centers across the country.
Alongside the palliative care unit, the hospital also launched the Bethany Kids for Kijabe Hospital and the Family Health Projects as well as commissioning the CT scanner, which the president said would go a long way in providing the much needed cancer and oncology treatment care to more Kenyans.
Bethany kids of Kijabe offers care to children with a disability and A.I.C. Kenya deputy presiding Bishop Reverend Geoffrey Gichure said the ground breaking towards the construction of Bethany Kids Center would see more children with disability get specialized care from professionals.
Reverend Gichure said the construction of the center would take 18 months adding that donors fund 80% of the project.
He added that A.I.C has invested much in health care provision to Kenyans and this project will boost their ability the meet the ever-increasing demand for health care.
The Medical Services Assistant Minister Kazungu Kambi said there has been a significant increase in patients with no growth in health care facilities to meet the increased demand for health care services.
Kazungu said the ministry is seeking to restructure the National Hospital and Insurance Fund (NHIF) to incorporate every individual and give him or her access to health care in any health facility irrespective of what the ailment.
“The constitution gives every Kenyan a right to health and we endeavor to accomplish this basic right.” Kazungu said.
Medical Services Permanent Secretary Mrs. Mary Ngari said the ministry has worked closely with faith-based organizations to bridge the gap that the country experiences in health care provision.
Mrs. Ngari said the establishment of the stand-alone palliative care unit is a milestone in recognizing the role palliative care is playing and will go a long way in meeting the palliative care needs for patients with life limiting illnesses in the region.
A.I.C Kijabe Mission Hospital has 18 mobile clinics across the country and in the year 2011, it managed to perform 2,300 surgical operations to patients with various complications.