“Sister, nipatie ile yoghurt kabla utoke, hiyo ndiyo inatoa uchungu (Give me the usual yoghurt before you leave, it relieves the pain)” This, according to a nurse at Kijabe Hospital, is what one patient has been saying every time she goes to administer pain-reducing drugs. The patient is actually referring to Morphine syrup.

That is an example of the many issues raised during Pain Management training at Kijabe Hospital on 30th October 2015. Of course some of these concerns are sad while others rather hilarious; but all the same, it was clear most health providers ignore some of the most basic things as far as pain management is concerned, whether knowingly or otherwise.

Managing pain is not as easy as it may be perceived by patients and even health providers themselves. It involves a vivid understanding of the drugs, the patient and the circumstances. This is why health workers from the Palliative Care Unit decided it was time all health providers from all the departments in the hospital were enlightened on this issue of pain management. According to the facilitators of the day, without knowledge on the same, chances of the patients misusing the drugs and health administrators making uninformed decisions on the type of drugs to give are quite high.

The training is geared towards equipping all the health workers at the hospital with not just knowledge on the drugs but how to relate with the patients as well enough to understand what they are going through as far as the pain level is concerned. For instance, it is easy to misread signs of pain of a child who cannot talk or even an unresponsive adult. It therefore requires advanced knowledge to identify such cases and treat them appropriately. “We have all at some point made errors when administering these drugs and we need to change; whether it’s our attitude towards a particular drug or the patient. Let’s adhere to what is required and more so what is best for the patient otherwise a lot of things such as our past experiences with a certain drug could easily drive us to making wrong judgments and erroneous decisions,” Naomi, one of the facilitators emphasizes.

Due to the big size of the staff at the hospital, the training has been divided to accommodate all the members. This was the fourth two-day training and it will run until the first week of December. According to the participants, the training was a success. “I am glad that I have gone through this training. I have learned a lot and now I have a new way of looking at pain management and all that it pertains in general,” says a jovial Gathama from the Emergency department. The feeling was mutual for all the attendees who were grateful to the facilitators for the training. They did a post-test after an initial pretest to gauge them on how much they learned during the process and are due to receive certificates from KEHPCA who partially took part in the training through their representative, Dr. Esther Muinga. The training is dubbed the Pain Free Hospital Initiative supported by Treat the Pain-a program of the American Cancer Society (ACS). This follows a successful completion of the same atKNH through the Pain and Palliative Care Unit in September 2015.