Nyeri to train over 2,500 volunteers on palliative care

Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu

Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu (right) and Safaricom's Mt Kenya and North Eastern region Sales Manager Joel Mbogo interact with Josephine Wangui, a breast cancer survivor, at the Nyeri Hospice on August 12, 2020.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu said the county wass in the final stages of rolling out home-based care training for its 2,510 CHVs.
  • According to Kehpca’s estimates, at least a million Kenyans are in need of palliative care.

Nyeri County is working on a programme to train some of its community health volunteers (CHVs) to assist patients in need of palliative care.

Palliative care is the service that relieves pain, symptoms and stress caused by serious injuries or illnesses.

According to the Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (Kehpca), palliative care is provided through prevention and relief of suffering through early identification, thorough assessment and treatment of pain.

The service, which includes patients’ families for those under home-based care, also seeks to address other complications, including physical, economic, psychosocial and spiritual issues.

Speaking in Nairobi on Saturday, Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu said the county was in the final stages of rolling out home-based care training for its 2,510 CHVs.

“We are currently [assessing] their needs and capabilities before selecting eligible ones for the programme,” said Dr Karugu.

She said, however, that the training will cover all CHVs since some do not have the required level of education.

“Some of the CHVs have a wonderful heart of helping people but have not been properly educated,” she told a media breakfast organised by Kehpca.

Many in need

According to Kehpca’s estimates, at least a million Kenyans are in need of palliative care.

“Of these, only less than 15 per cent of adults and less than one per cent of children or paediatric patients have access to such care. These include patients affected by infectious and non-communicable diseases,” said Dr Asaph Kinyanjui, Kehpca’s programme director.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) lists adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, cancer, heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, HIV-Aids, kidney failure and arthritis and drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) among those who need palliative care.

Also in the list are children with meningitis, blood disorders, neonatal conditions and kidney diseases.

Palliative care is currently available in 75 facilities in 25 counties countrywide.

Dr Karugu, who is Kehpca’s goodwill ambassador for palliative care, said the country cannot afford Universal Health Coverage without affordable, accessible and quality palliative care.

“Palliative care needs to be made accessible to patients with NHIF cover as well as those with private insurance,” she said.

She said she had kicked off talks with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) chief executive Peter Kamunyu and Britam Kenya on the coverage of patients, especially those under oncology or cancer care.

“I am looking forward to the participation of the private sector in covering patients with this need,” she said.

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