Access to Palliative Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries during Coronavirus Disease-2019 Pandemic and Post-Pandemic Era: A Kenyan Experience

John Weru*, Esther Nafula, Asaph Kinyanjui and Sriram Yennurajalingam

Access to Palliative Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic emphasized the role of palliative care as an essential service to patients and families affected by life-threatening illnesses.
Challenges encountered included: patients were not able to access services due to lockdown or restricted movement, limited or no home-based care and visits, opioid analgesic supplies were depleted, high frequency of uncontrolled symptoms and psychosocial distress, limited patient-caregiver-clinician communication, reduced family interactions due to fear of infecting the already sick family members, few training opportunities for health care workers and HCW distress and burn-out.
To address these challenges, the following strategies were employed; utilization of digital technologies to match resources, innovation in provision of PC including adapting etiquette for patient care using digital technology, advocating policy changes, education, use of technology such as video calls among family members support for HCW.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCOV2) (coronavirus disease-2019) pandemic originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province of the People’s Republic of China in December 2019 and has since overwhelmed health care systems across the world.
Palliative care as a holistic approach is an essential component of universal health care, especially during a pandemic.
Optimal management of distressing symptoms, clinical uncertainties, complex decision making, and strengthening care provided by family caregivers thereby improving patients’ quality of life are key attributes of palliative care practice that are much needed in this difficult period.
Further, community PC can facilitate provision of home-based quality care to patients with cancer and those with complications of COVID-19 who can be cared for within the community.

Palliat Med Hosp Care Open J. 2023; 9(1): 1-6. doi: 10.17140/PMHCOJ-9-15