The Kenya Hospices and palliative care association (KEHPCA) has been very vocal when it comes to everything palliative care entails. When the organization was formed, it was a consequence of many not knowing about such care which, in a country with a growing number of people dying from disease, the result was that many of those in pain had no escape from it. It doesn’t take much to see how this care is essential to those living with life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care literally seeks a holistic approach to improving all aspects of life for a patient which therefore means that one goes beyond the physical aspect of it. For many of these patients, the support required is a combination of psychological, emotional and spiritual support simultaneously provided with symptom control. It is the acknowledgement of the objective fact that this care is a human right that is not fully accessible, affordable and acceptable to everyone in Kenya, which continues to push KEHPCA forward.
KEHPCA’s Director of Programs and Advocacy Officer,Dr. Asaph Kinyanjui and Mr. David Musyoki respectively, visited North Kinangop Mission Hospital; a community-based hospital at the heart of Nyandarua County. Their visit was quite inspiring particularly hearing the progress the hospital is making in ensuring that everyone in need of this care in this area is receiving it. Well, it has now been four years of offering quality palliative care services and their success has been made possible by the support accorded to them by the hospital administration.
During this visit, the KEHPCA team met Esther Warui; a nurse who undertook an introductory certificate course in palliative care at Maua Methodist Hospital and later underwent mentorship at the palliative care unit in AIC Kijabe Hospital. Need I say more, that she has mastered her skills so well and therefore qualified to serve as a palliative care nurse.
One thing stands out about Esther; her passion to serve. In spite of her being the only palliative care nurse in this hospital, she does her work diligently and with a lot of compassion. It is good to note that this region has a high population of the elderly and Esther together with her palliative care team is actively involved in managing their health complications.
“KEHPCA visiting affirm that the work I do is key and I feel motivated,” Said Esther Warui.
There was also a meeting held and among issues discussed was how to incorporate palliative care into National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).It is unfortunate that palliative care patients in this region cannot use this medical cover for treatment; a matter that KEHPCA promised to pursue and ensure that every patient with NHIF will start accessing this care.
They looked into how palliative care awareness will be done between the hospital and the wider community. In addition, how to strengthen referral systems within and outside county was among the matter discussed during the meeting. Finally, the hospital pointed out the need for more capacity building; including encouraging health practitioners to undertake training in higher diploma course in palliative care.
Palliative care remains everyone’s business.