Following a Ministry of Health Circular issued in July 2012 requiring district (Level 4) hospitals to establish palliative care centers, Kitui District hospital has lived to fulfill this requirement.
Through its (hospital) Management, the hospital identified space for a palliative care unit (PCU) and formed a palliative care team in October 2013.
The team has since had two members undertake the introduction to palliative care short course with support from Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA).
Support from the hospital has seen the palliative care team go for a bench marking visit at Machakos palliative care unit.
Machakos PCU head Mr. Musau Moni says that Kitui PCU has a full backing from the hospital and the Kitui County administration which is a prerequisite to development of the needed care.
“The palliative care team from the hospital is all inclusive with key cadres presented in the team which makes decisions easier,” says Mr. Musau.
The recent visit to Kitui hospital and County Ministry of Health by KEHPCA Executive Director Dr. Zippy set the ball rolling. The Health Minister stood by her word promising to ensure that palliative care clinic is refurbished”.
He says that his team is available to offer necessary support to ensure the unit rises to meet the demand for palliative care services in the area adding that visiting them occasionally will be a motivation.
“We greatly appreciate the County Government through the Director and the County Minister for Health for having renovated the unit,” says M/s. Ruth Ndambuki, a Senior Nursing Officer in charge PCU.
Though they are faced with resource challenges that limit them from currently using the unit, M/s. Ndambuki says that they do their best to touch the lives of the suffering patients. “Those in severe pain are physically taken to Machakos PCU to get oral morphine and those in need of chemotherapy and radiotherapy are referred to Kenyatta National Hospital and followed home after discharge.
They indicate lack of furniture and other office necessities besides transport challenges that has forced them to dig deeper into their pockets to carry out home visits.
“There is no greater joy than to see a patient with a life limiting illness pain free; from tears and desperation to smiling with his/her family or to have a peaceful death.” she says.
She mentions a 17 year old patient who was hospitalized with osteogenic sarcoma (a bone cancer) and whose case they followed home, 20 kilometers away by matatu (public means) and a boda boda (motorcycle) saying that the family is now living in joy following the support they have received from the team including Machakos PCU.
M/s. Ndambuki thanks Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) for the support it has given to the team at the unit and wishes to be supported to undertake a diploma in higher education in palliative care at Nairobi Hospice or at the Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC).
The unit’s mission is to offer quality palliative care to the terminally ill and facilitate spiritual, emotional and social support to both patients and their families.
They have a vision to promote effective and timely palliative care outlining their objectives as below;
- To create awareness about palliative care services within the county
- To co-ordinate and provide palliative services within the county
- To advocate for palliative services provision for patients with life limiting illness and their families
- To make follow up to these patients and teach the carer on home based care.
- To offer bereavement counseling and support to these families following a death of a loved one.
- To be involved in research and survey on life limiting conditions within the county
The team was involved in reviewing in-patients as they waited for renovation of the unit to enable term serve out patients.
The team attends to patients with cancer with the common ones being cervical and breast cancer, malignant melanomas, osteogenic sarcomas, squamous cell carcinoma and also sees HIV patients. The HIV cases are referred to the comprehensive care centre.
They would like to have further palliative care training for their healthcare workers starting with the one week certificate course.
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