April 26th, 2016, was a great day for Naivasha County Referral hospital palliative care unit and patients living with life threatening illnesses. Multitudes of patients, friends of Naivasha palliative care unit and stakeholders flooded the premises with anticipation to receive Nakuru County first lady Mrs. Lucia Kinuthia. Among other guests were Dr. Lenai (Director Public Health Nakuru County), Hon. Eunice Murithi (MCA Viwandani Ward, Nakuru County) and the Sub-County administration representatives.
Patients suffering different life threatening illnesses were overwhelmed with love that was symbolized by donations of wheelchairs for the cerebral palsy patients, mattresses and toys for the children and a tent to provide a conducive environment for the patients to rest on as they wait to see Sr.Mary (Nurse in charge Naivasha palliative care unit). These groups included Cerebral Palsy patients, Cancer patients and patients with Albinism.
The ceremony began with songs and dance as the palliative care unit – cancer survivors support group, Albino’s support group and parents of the children suffering from cerebral palsy welcomed the guest of honor – Mrs. Kinuthia. Ululation and songs of jubilation filled the air as the guest approached the premises. The groups displayed products they make from their income generating projects and sold to the guests present after the ceremony.
Palliative care is a holistic care given to patients. Spiritual care was not forgotten as the crowd was fed with the word of God before commencing the main ceremony. Entertainment was in plenty; groups show cased their talents in singing and dancing. Despite the odds they still were able to glorify God for the second chance in life and the privilege to be alive.
Dr. Philip Mwangi and other staff members from the unit gave their speeches addressing successes and the challenges they are facing with the patients. Group representative also participated in highlighting their successes and pleas to the County government.
“The Non-communicable diseases affecting Nakuru County are cardiovascular diseases and Cancer” said Dr.Philip who works closely with the palliative care team. In 2015, Naivasha County Referral Hospital compiled statistics on the various cancer cases affecting different gender. The leading cancer in 2015 among women in Nakuru County was breast cancer, followed by cancer of the esophagus and cervical cancer. The main leading cancer among men was prostate cancer, followed by cancer of the esophagus and Kaposi sarcoma. Dr. Philip added that the Ministry of Health Nakuru County recommended putting emphasis on early screening among the area residents to minimize cases of patients coming for screening when the disease has advanced to stage 3.
“We are so far grateful to God for the support we are getting from the hospital, the Ministry of health, stakeholders and all friends of Naivasha palliative care unit” In spite of that we still need a lot of resources to take care of these patients” said Mary Gacheru (nurse in-charge Naivasha palliative care unit). Human resource/Staffing, funding to run the unit daily, upgrade of infrastructure, inadequate colostomy bags for the patients suffering cancer of the stomach, therapists and therapy machines, legal advice for patients and office equipment to keep patients records were the main challenges that were highlighted. Mrs. Kinuthia gave her word to provide all that is needed with the help of the key staff members present, and other stakeholders. Group representatives urged the (Nakuru County first lady) Mrs. Kinuthia to assist them in putting up a day care for the cerebral palsy children, assist the albino group to put up their beehive project and empower women to continue with their income generating projects (IGAs) for them to make their lives better. Persons with disabilities representative urged all the involved parties to register with National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to cater for a percentage of their medical bills.
“The small deeds are the ones that make a difference in our lives and other people’s lives, be an example” said Hon. Eunice Murithi. Mrs. Kinuthia also promised to commence the construction of a waiting area and meeting area for the groups in a week’s time and providing snacks for the patients during their support group meetings.
“Mheshimiwa, we are requesting for a Bill for the human resource for the health care workers and a Bill for the NCDs to be put in place to advocate for better health care services. “To achieve this we need a technical working group for devolved health within Nakuru County to streamline health care for cancer patient, albinism and cerebral palsy patients among other life threatening illnesses” urged Dr. Lenai.
‘What you do to others will bear fruit in you’ Thomas Carlyle. Act now!