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Tackling Pain in Laikipia County

Author: Hannah Njoroge
16 June 2017

“Vital signs are taken seriously, if pain was assessed with the same zeal as the other vital signs, it would have a much better chance of being treated,” Dr. James Campbell, MD. His words are a wakeup call; suggesting lack of proper pain management techniques to help ease pain and yet the number of people going through pain globally is alarming. Maybe some health workers do not even pay much attention to pain and the effects it has in the life of a patient. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel considering that different health institutions and organizations have since adhered to this call and are now on the front line advocating for proper pain management as a way of improving patient’s quality of life.

Pain is a feeling that we all dread; more so because its effects are so intense and can lead to torture. That is why through the support given by Treat the Pain, Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) has been sensitizing people on different pain management concepts so as to make it the 5th vital sign.

KEHPCA’s Director of Programs and Advocacy Officer, Dr. Asaph Kinyanjui and Mr. David Musyoki respectively, facilitated a pain management symposium at Nyahururu County Referral Hospital and Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital. Both hospitals are in Laikipia County, and Nyahururu hospice is located in Nyahururu hospital. Moreover, both hospitals serve patients from within and outside the County and therefore pain management knowledge is necessary for them. Participants were also drawn from Ol Kalou Hospital in Nyandarua County.

The two training sessions were remarkable; attracting multidisciplinary teams. To kick off the training, a pre-test was done and a post-test concluded it; the post-test indicating an improvement in performance which translates to more knowledge gained.

“We need more of these sessions to inform our practice. A day never passes without attending to a patient in pain. The knowledge gained will enable us manage pain better,” said one of the participants from Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital.

The sessions were rather informing for most of them; some expressing their shock after learning that  the opioid medicine Pethidine is no longer in the essential medicines list yet there are hospitals prescribing it to patients in pain. They promised to share that information with the pharmacists so that they can adhere to the guidelines.

The management from the two hospitals reaffirmed their commitment in supporting pain management programs and everything palliative care entails.

“Most of the patients who come have some level of pain and we need be able to manage their pain in a more professional way,” said Dr. Kamande, the Medical Superintendant at Nyahururu Hospital.

KEHPCA will continue supporting the two hospitals even as we work towards ensuring that quality  palliative care is accessible and affordable to everyone in need in this country.

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