Malindi District Hospital is the latest entrant into the palliative care service provision bracket following the launch of its palliative care unit last week.
Part of the cerebrating team was Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) who conducted a Continuous Medical Education to the team at the hospital.
The CMEs are aimed at equipping teams at hospitals providing palliative care with knowledge in pain management and other distressing symptoms.
Malindi Medical Officer of Health Dr Fatma said that the cases of patients who need palliative care has been on the rise making these services crucial in the hospital.
She emphasized the importance of integration of palliative care for the management of all life threatening illnesses and not just cancer.
“The palliative care team has been seeing at least 15 patients, including pediatrics, every week and this number is bound to increase.” Dr Fatma said.
Present at the celebration was the Coast Hospice team that has provided technical support through creating awareness, supplying drugs and mentoring the team at Malindi over the years.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Coast Hospice administrator M/s. Jane Mwanyumba said that Malindi sub-county patients and their families will now have close access to this facility, easing the burden of traveling and expenses
“The environs of Malindi will also benefit from the palliative care services offered in this unit,” said M/s. Mwanyumba.
Dr Eleanor Foster, a Canadian doctor who has volunteered since October 2011 to establish palliative care services at Malindi District Hospital said since they started offering the services in November 2011, the number of patients has steadily increased, with a current figure of between 10 – 15 new patients per month.
Dr Eleanor said that most patients receiving care at the unit have cancer of the Cervix, Breast and Prostate alongside other patients of HIV and Kidney failure and the official launch will see the unit continue serving even more patients in need of palliative care as well as supporting their families.
The Kilifi County Health Secretary’s (CHS) office confirmed that it has bought the unit enough medicines to be given to patients for free for the next 3 months and will continue to support them in future.
This support of drugs will go a long way in alleviating patients’ pain at the new unit with a promise from the CHS that they will look into the issue of staff shortage at the hospital and find a solution.
Following the support, the hospital has donated some morphine to Coast Hospice as they await supply from Laborex pharmaceuticals.
The Hospital Matron Mrs. Deche said that they have a breast cancer support group at the hospital with 21registered cancer survivors.
Group leader Rosemary Ndung’u said the support group members meet every Wednesday to share their experiences and give each other strength.
With the support of Dr Eleanor, Rosemary and her colleague Asanta Komora, are undertaking a Higher Diploma in Palliative Care course offered at Nairobi Hospice in collaboration with Oxford Brookes University.
“I have a passion in palliative care and I have worked with women with cervical cancer in the villages who I refer to a gynecologist for further tests.” Rosemary said.
She said that her fear is breaking bad news to a patient once the results are positive and this is one of the reasons she is undertaking the course to learn how to break bad news to patients.
Rosemary says once she completes the course, she would be better equipped to break bad news and enhance support to patients with life threatening illnesses.
The opening of Malindi District Hospital Palliative Care Unit is part of the ongoing integration of palliative care into government hospitals by KEHPCA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.