In Makueni County, southern Kenya, access to palliative care remains incredibly sparse. The vast majority of those in need have no choice but to suffer in isolation without the care, support and pain relief that palliative care can provide. Three palliative care nurses at Makindu Palliative Care Centre do their best to provide care to patients arriving at their facility, but with so few nurses and no budget for outreach services or home-based care, they are barely scratching the surface of the need in the population on almost 1 million people.
Over the past year we have taken the first steps in developing much needed community-based provision of palliative care, initially covering Kibwesi sub-county. Last year we trained 21 community health volunteers, building capacity within the community of Kibwesi to reach patients with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses, and their families. The new knowledge and skills of the volunteers have already proven invaluable. Since training they have already reached 162 people living with cancer and their families with home-based care and support. The volunteers are now visiting their patients several times each week, providing support with medication, counselling and, when required, bereavement care for the family.
Palliative care patient Joan, told us what this care means to her:
“I am 49 years now and I have no children. When I discovered something in my left breast my family insisted that since I have never given birth then I must be cursed. The breast developed a wound, I didn’t know what to do. I was in pain, I cried every day and didn’t sleep. Luckily my Community Health Volunteer, Mary, visited me and after explaining to her my predicament she helped me. God bless her, she cleaned and dressed my wound and I no longer felt pain. She accompanied me to the hospital for tests. I was told I have stage four breast cancer. Mary has helped me to understand my condition and just listens to me. I often feel hopeless and she makes me feel like life is worth living. This journey is tough but I thank Mary for continuing to support me.”
Please help us give hope to more people like Joan and bring them the compassionate palliative care that can change lives by donating here.