Kenyan children plight highlighted

Human Rights Watch releases report showing lack of palliative care worsens suffering for Kenya's gravely ill children.

    The HRW study followed Unicef's report on how it falls short in helping the poorest children [GALLO/GETTY]

    A new report says lack of palliative care is devastating children in Kenya, placing an even heavier burden on families whose children are incurably ill.

    Released by Human Rights Watch on Thursday, the report emphasises the need for readily available pain medication and support for children who suffer from diseases such as AIDS and cancer.

    Basic medications, including pain relievers, are in short supply in Kenya. That, combined with lack of affordability and the reluctance of many health care providers in treating children with strong pain medications, has created a major problem for Kenya's gravely ill children.

    "For children, serious illness, pain, hospitalisation, and invasive medical procedures are often profoundly disorienting and traumatising and can cause great suffering," says the report.

    "For parents and caregivers, watching a child suffer from symptoms and medical procedures, balancing the needs of the sick child with those of other children, and facing the prospect of the child’s potential death, cause great distress."

    Half of all child deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 4.4 million of the 135 million children under the age of five died in 2008.

    Human Rights Watch called for the Kenyan government to remove hurdles, such as tax on morphine powder, while implementing programmes and processes to help provide pain relievers and community services to sick children and their families.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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