This past week, the world came together to collectively and unanimously call for the inclusion of hospice and palliative care in the Universal Health Coverage scheme and show empathy towards people living with serious health related suffering.
For 6 days, people, organisations and associations made their voices heard, asking policy makers to pay attention to prioritize palliative care policies and services. This culminated in worldwide celebrations on 12th October, 2019 for the World Hospices & Palliative Care Day.
Themed “My Care, My Right”, the rallying call for the celebrations was drawn from the clear and dire need for governments to acknowledge the need for inclusive talks and engagements related to palliative care and its critical role in giving the sick dignified lives and enable access to palliative care and support for the inclusion of the essential package of palliative care.
This year’s WHPCD 2019 comes on the heels of the UN High Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) on 23 September and closer home, our partners and institutions across the country were hard at work advocating and engaging with the communities to bring this to actualization.
Garissa PGH Palliative Care Unit
Ms. Mumina Mohammed, a Palliative Care Nurse at our partner palliative care unit at the Garissa Provincial General Hospital, spoke to us about the challenging yet fulfilling palliative care at the hospital. As the only full time nursing care provider at the palliative unit of the hospital which caters to people from all over Garissa county and as far as Mwingi, she expresses an urgent need for the government to give even more attention to palliative care in the government hospitals and make palliative care a priority even in the training of caregivers.
It is also imperative to provide palliative units that offer privacy for patients as well as proper counselling and support services for the caregivers who comprise family and friends.
On the 12th of October, 2019, the world celebrated the World Hospices & Palliative Care Day, and Ms. Mumina visited Ms. Muslima Mohammed, a patient 12kms away from her home in Tana River. Muslima was very happy to be visited by people who are not her immediate family and expressed immense gratitude. When asked about the care she has been getting, this was her response – “I am very happy to celebrate this day with you and I am grateful for the care I receive from Mumina and the hospital. I would like for the hospital to have more facilities to help more people living with serious health conditions and for special hospital wings that consider privacy and overall wellbeing of patients that require palliative care”
When patients are visited and shown empathy by the caregivers and professionals, they feel loved. The home visit brought tears of joy and happiness to the family of the patient, who acknowledged the team and encouraged them to make the visits more frequent. The visit accorded the patient and her family the opportunity to share their challenges and needs to Ms. Mumina and the hospital team.
According to Ms. Mumina, because of the community they are in, family and friends really support each other and always care for the sick and elderly regardless of relations. This has really helped make her work easy at the hospital because the community values people.
Author: Kelai Wanjiru, KEHPCA