When Thika Level Five Hospital Palliative Care Team in Kiambu County together with Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) conducted training at Gatundu hospital towards the end 2015.The training on Introduction to palliative care was in preparation for establishing a palliative care unit therein; it did not appear like it would pick up anytime soon considering the many associated challenges barely three months into the training and the unit is already up and running; now that is quite commendable. The palliative care team is composed of about 10) participants from the training who have dedicated themselves to making sure that this noble initiative impacts positively on many people within and without the community.
There are so many patients all over who are suffering yet such can be undone if we all made an effort to change our attitudes and perceptions. Gatundu is no different; life threatening conditions are not unique to a specific place or person. What we do to counter these sorts of problems is what brings the difference. For instance, Hellen Nyambura Mwangi, a young Clinical Officer says that she couldn’t be happier for choosing to undergo the training on palliative care, “It is not always easy dealing with patients with terminal conditions; it’s heart-breaking but I stay strong and putting a smile on the faces of these patients is all that matters to me. Back at the dispensary where I work in Gachika, I have two patients with cancer of the breast and they are doing well thanks to the care that we have given them since we started using the knowledge we acquired to handle them. We dress the wounds and do counseling as well and this has helped them a great deal.”
Peninah, the team leader of the group reported that a patient had been referred to Gatundu for palliative care and pain management from the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi. “We will need to work on acquiring oral morphine for such patients and also require support to furnish the room identified for palliative care services.
There are of course challenges that the new unit is facing and this is the reason why collaboration is key to achieving goals…in any society whatsoever. Thika Palliative Care Unit has mentored the new unit in Gatundu and even spearheaded its inception. “We are happy that what we began here has taken shape and it is progressing well. I think what is really important here is that we can provide these services to a wider population and we are glad that what we have mentored is materializing into a reality. We will continue collaborating until this unit can comfortably stand on its own,” highlights Head of Thika Palliative Care Unit, Edith Mwihaki.
According to Dr. Asaph Kinyanjui, Director of Programmes at KEHPCA, it is always encouraging when they do training and the participants do actually act to that effect, “I am happy that what we hoped you’d do after training is exactly what we are witnessing. Of course you might not be able to achieve and get everything at once but step by step and you’ll attain your goals in the long run.” He also adds that the decision by the Gatundu staff to visit Thika Unit was a good start towards learning more on successfully running a palliative care unit. Dr. Muinga also emphasizes on team work and urges the new unit to liaise with different stakeholders including pharmacists to ease their operations.
Let us all walk our talk and we can achieve the most important thing of all: purpose.