The hashtag “# BoycottKFC” was trending recently, as angry Kenyans took to social media to express their outrage after KFC, an international fast food corporation, announced a shortage of imported potatoes. This brought questions such as; “How can there be a shortage of potatoes yet farmers in Kenya produce them?”, “Why the franchise imports potatoes yet Kenyans are growing them?” and lastly, “Why are they not buying from the locals?”
This led to an uproar where Kenyans expressed their anger through social media posts focusing on how KFC didn’t want to source potatoes locally and support Kenya’s economy. Yet, they wanted Kenyans to buy from them. The uproar on social media led to the company’s decision to source potatoes locally. This was indeed the power of social media.
In an article powered by African Business Communities, AFRICAN DATA, Kenya leads the pack in mobile internet penetration, showing the tendency of Kenyans to browse via their smartphones and apps above the desktop. Urban, young, and tech-savvy people between 25 and 34 make up the largest segment of consumers.
However, these thoughts cross my mind as I write this piece;
- What if all @KOT and other social media platforms responded with the same energy on matters #Health?
- What if all Kenyans on social media could just make an expression on their opinions on matters of health care to the MOH?
- What if all Kenyans responded to the calls on the prevention of diseases and push for full accessibility to the highest attainable standards of health as per the Kenyan constitution?
Don’t you think Kenya would be a better place to live in?
Yet, my assumption and probably the true state of affairs is that many Kenyans shy away from such topics when it comes to matters of health or more specifically #palliativecare.
A study by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) stated that there is a rise in NCDs in Kenya. Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other NCDs account for 27% of all deaths in Kenya and more than 50% of hospitalizations. A big percentage of those affected by such conditions and their families would benefit from palliative care.
According to the World Health Organization, palliative care is holistic support to patients and their families faced with life-threatening illnesses. It improves their quality of life (both adults and children). It prevents and relieves suffering through early identification, correct assessment, and treatment of pain and other physical, psychosocial, or spiritual problems. In Kenya, palliative care was initiated in 1990, and there are currently over 70 functional palliative care service provision centers. Such cannot meet the need- the gap in this care is huge.
Let us ponder on this question that lingers in my mind… How can we respond to influence some change of the current situation? What hashtag can we use and have a national outcry, and hence a national response?
Just recently (October 2021) we marked a big milestone for palliative care as Kenya launched the first-ever Kenyan palliative care policy. The policy provides a roadmap to the attainment and access to an important service. (https://www.health.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Kenya-Palliative-Care-Policy-2021-2030.pdf) This policy needs to be implemented ASAP.
This is therefore a BIG call and appeal to all social media users in Kenya; let’s create awareness for palliative care. A service that can help improve the quality of life for those living with life-threatening diseases and reduce unnecessary hospital visits. The knowledge that such services exist among the youth and the general public is essential information one needs to have since palliative care is a fundamental human right.