First of all, what is Palliative Care? Palliative care is an interdisciplinary approach to specialized medical and nursing care for people with life-limiting illnesses. It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress at any stage of illness.
The CEO Dr. Evanson Kamuri and Kenyatta National Hospital Head of Palliative care, Dr. Esther Munyoro among other stakeholders are making discussions on matters palliative care and how the community can come in to support the fight against Cancer.
Currently, there are a total of 65 Hospices and palliative care providers across Kenya both of which are private, free, and others are governmental hospitals. In Kenya, palliative care is supposed to be given to patients with life-threating conditions since nobody is supposed to die in pain. This is done through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment, treatment of pain, and holistic treatment.
What does Palliative Care do/offer?
- Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms
- Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process
- Intends neither to hasten or postpone death
- Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care
- Offers a support system to help patients live as actively as possible until death
- Offers a support system to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement
- Uses a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families, including bereavement counseling, if indicated
- Will enhance the quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness
- Is applicable early in the course of illness, in conjunction with other therapies that are intended to prolong life, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, and includes those investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications
Palliative Care for Children in Kenya
Palliative care for children (Paediatric palliative care)represents a special, albeit closely related field to adult palliative care. It is a method for delivering competent, compassionate and consistent care to children with chronic, complex and/or life-threatening conditions and their families.
Pediatric Palliative Care does not aim to cure the disease but to prevent suffering and improve the quality of life for Kenya’s youngest terminally ill patients, aged 0-16. Pediatric Palliative Care can be delivered at home, in a hospice, or a hospital, and focuses on treating pain and other physical symptoms, providing psychosocial support, and complementary care and treatment to children suffering life-limiting illnesses and their families and carers.
World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of palliative care appropriate for children and their families is as follows:
- Palliative care for children is the active total care of the child’s body, mind and spirit, and also involves giving support to the family.
- It begins when the illness is diagnosed and continues regardless of whether or not a child receives treatment directed at the disease.
- Health providers must evaluate and alleviate a child’s physical, psychological, and social distress.
- Effective palliative care requires a broad multidisciplinary approach that includes the family and makes use of available community resources; it can be successfully implemented even if resources are limited.
- It can be provided in tertiary care facilities, in community health centers and even in children’s homes.
There are a total of 65 centers offering palliative care in Kenya. They include;
1. Freestanding Hospices
2. Hospice and Palliative Care Services in the rural community (FBO)
3. Hospices and Palliative Care Services in the Mission Hospitals
4. Government Hospitals with Palliative Care.
5. Private Institutions
6. Teaching and Referral Hospitals
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