Over the past year we have, for the first time, started supporting the development of palliative care in Garissa County in east Kenya. Garissa County is one of the poorest counties in Kenya. A predominantly rural area where limited healthcare infrastructure compounds the struggles of those facing chronic illnesses.

Our partner, the newly established Garissa County Palliative Care Unit, is desperately needed; in 2021-2022 the Garissa County Centre reported over 7,000 new cancer cases in the county. Yet despite this huge need for hospice and palliative care, the new services are underused as potential patients are unaware of them, living instead with the devastating impact of life-limiting illness without support. Even healthcare workers lack knowledge on palliative care and patients miss out on referrals for services. Over the past year we have worked with Garissa Palliative Care Unit to take the first steps in developing the new services and raising awareness of them.

So far, we have equipped 70 individuals with palliative care knowledge. This includes healthcare providers who now have the knowledge to correctly refer patients with life-limiting illness into the services they desperately need, and community health volunteers who are now empowered to bridge the gap in community health care provision through community based palliative care and who will share the information widely within their communities. The inclusion of hospital managers will generate their support and commitment to palliative care services through providing support and resources to the palliative care unit.

The training included informative presentations on the principles and importance of palliative care, case studies highlighting successful implementation, interactive group discussions, and Question and Answer sessions. The use of multimedia resources, such as informational brochures, enhanced the learning experience.

Palliative care nurse, Catherine Katuku, reflected on the achievements:

β€œThe project has been overwhelmingly successful. Feedback from the participants highlighted the effectiveness of the meetings as they reported increased knowledge and confidence in providing palliative care services.”

Overall, the project has increased awareness and knowledge about palliative care in healthcare workers and volunteers and bolstered the commitment of hospital management to integrate palliative care into their facilities. We look forward to the next steps and monitoring the positive impact of the training. Over 2024 we will train a further 90 individuals in palliative care. We hope to see increased patients referred for and receiving palliative care as we continue our support to Garissa Palliative Care Unit in the future.

Read Anwyll’s story about a child and his family who have received vital care from Garissa Palliative Care Unit.

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Pioneering Palliative Care in Garissa County

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