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Going to the airwaves to spread the Palliative Care message

Author: Mwende Maureen
30 April 2015

Radio is the most intimate and socially personal medium in the world, so said Harry von Zell, a renowned American radio announcer. Radio remains one of the most powerful forms of media and its reach is beyond comprehension. It reaches across many borders to impact lives on a wide scale. Delight is the best feeling to describe the feeling Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) staff had when an opportunity to go onto a leading radio station presented itself.

Mr. Elijah Musau, the head of the Palliative Care unit at Machakos Level 5 hospital, accepted the duty of advancing end of life care on a leading vernacular station broadcasting a local dialect, Kamba that is the language of the people who live in Machakos, Kitui and Makueni counties.

Mr. Musau was hosted by Angela Mwikali on the popular late night show Ndukeyituke that airs from 9PM to midnight. The show targets those who are in difficult circumstances and facing challenges they feel are weighing them down too much. It was, therefore, the perfect platform to discuss end of life care and pass across this message.

“Tell us about yourself and for those who know not about palliative care, tell us what it is,” started Mwikali the host. “Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients facing problems associated with life-limiting illnesses. A key component of palliative care is the support given to families and caregivers.”

Mr. Musau went into detail about palliative care while focusing on the following components:-

Ø Providing relief from pain and other distressing symptoms

Ø Affirming life and regarding dying as a normal process

Ø Neither hastens or postpones death

Ø Integrates the psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care

Ø Offers a support system for patients to live as actively as possible until death

Ø Offers a support system for families to cope during the patients illnesses including during bereavement counseling

Ø Enhancing the quality of life and also positively influence the course of illness

Fifteen minutes into the live interview, calls had started coming into studio and the hotline used by the Machakos palliative care unit. By the end of the interview, tens of calls had come in and it was approaching midnight. Machakos palliative care unit reports that they have continued to receive numerous calls from within the county and as far away as Mombasa County.

The number of people interested in knowing more about palliative care continues to grow daily and many more have visited the PC unit over the past week. Those not living within Machakos County have been directed to the PC units nearest to them.

“This week we have had an overwhelming number of patients and families seeking more information about palliative care and families seeking the same. We’re impressed by the outcome of the radio interview and we continue to offer our services and assistance to all and sundry, Elijah Musau says.

KEHPCA will continue to seek out partnerships with media and other stakeholders to advocate the very important message that, palliative care is everyone’s business.

See more articles in In the media

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