Rain falls like Gods own poetry; each drop is a single letter in a song that takes years to sing. The smell of air was earthy and the dry ground had a watery sheen to it. Cold seeped into my inwards like freezing fog making its way into my bones and wrapping around my brain like a wet blanket. One could not even have words to describe the temperature of the cold morning weather in their vocabulary.
As the nurses and doctors of Ladnan hospital in Pangani slowly walked in the room, their eye bagged eyes showed they had an all nighters shift but were still committed to attend the continuous medical education (CME) session that was facilitated by Dr. Asaph Kinyanjui from Kenya Hospice and Palliative Care (KEHPCA).
Dr Kinyanjui talked about what palliative care is, who require palliative care and what the essential components of palliative care are. Majority of those present acknowledged that they did not know and therefore needed the information.
World Health Organization (WHO) defines Palliative care as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing life threatening illness. This is achieved through the prevention and relief of suffering, by means of early identification, assessment and treatment of pain in addition to other physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems.
People who need palliative care are adults and children suffering from life threatening conditions both communicable and non communicable like; Cancer, HIV/AIDS, Metabolic (DM), Birth asphyxia, Congenital anomalies, geriatric complications, organ failure.
Currently there are 645,000 new cancer cases annually in Africa and only half of these countries have palliative care services. In Kenya the number of people dying of HIV/AIDS and cancer is 152,000 and 20,000 annually respectively. while that of estimated death in pain each year is 92,000.
Living and dying in pain does not have to happen, therefore Dr Kinyanjui recommend that there is need for community sensitization and integration, strengthening referral networks and need of advocacy in palliative care.
In the end Mrs. Leah Ngatia deputy matron of health services in Ladnan hospital was thankful to KEHPCA for training some of their staff and admits that their hospital comes across many patients who need palliative care. She would advocate for it to be offered in all hospitals.