May 26, 2024

Dying Kenyan children suffering needless pain

Human Rights Watch calls for palliative treatment

Brent Foster for Human Rights WatchKenyan children in acute and chronic pain
suffer needlessly because of government policies that restrict access to
inexpensive pain medicines, a lack of investment in palliative care services,
and inadequately trained health workers, according to the lobby group Human
Rights Watch

In a recent report it claims that most
Kenyan children with diseases such as cancer or HIV/AIDS are unable to get
palliative care or pain medicines. Health care workers lack training in pain
treatment and palliative care, and even when strong pain medicines are
available, they are often reluctant to give these medicines to children.

The World Health Organization considers
oral morphine an essential medicine for treating chronic pain, as does Kenya’s
own drug policy. A daily dose can cost as little as a few cents. Yet, the
Kenyan government does not purchase oral morphine for public health facilities
as it does other essential medicines. As a result, oral morphine is available
in just seven of the country’s 250 public hospitals.

“The Kenyan government, and donors,
should be working to improve pain treatment for everyone,” says Juliane
Kippenberg, of HRW. “And they should make sure that the youngest and most
vulnerable sufferers, sick children, are not left out. They should not be
suffering needlessly.” ~ Human Rights
Watch, September 9

Michael Cook
palliative care