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Agony for cancer patients as caregivers stay away



Mary Gitonga is lonely. The cool morning breeze does little to give peace of mind to the 57-year-old resident of Kiagororia, in Nakuru. Ms Gitonga has breast cancer and needs palliative care and regular medical check-up.

But she has nobody to take care of her fragile body, a situation that has been worsened by the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country. Gitonga also has diabetes and hypertension, conditions that compromise her immunity.

At times, she develops breathing difficulties, but has nobody to help fix her oxygen. Her two sons died in 2018.

“I am not sure if I am alive or I dream about life. This life seems too lonely and I just wait for God; I will accept His will,” says Gitonga in despair.

She says before the outbreak of Covid-19, neighbours used to visit her but not anymore. The home is now cold. “I am scared of visiting anyone because I know I might easily get infected with Covid-19 and die. I therefore prefer locking myself in the house,” she adds.

At home, Gitonga wears a mask and washes her hands regularly with soap and water to prevent coronavirus.


Though she undergoes chemotherapy at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, she fears she might contract coronavirus due to congestion.

“The hospital is not safe for me and I trust no one,” she says. Despite being in pain, she cannot access morphine, a strong painkiller that is out of stock. “I use betapyn since there is no morphine, but the pain is severe. I wish the government would consider replenishing the stock,” she says.

Her predicament is what is facing patients in need of palliative care at home, amid limited hospital visits. Gitonga, who is the chairperson of palliative patients at Nakuru Hospice, notes that majority of the patients are not able to access critical equipment while some are being attended to by unskilled care givers.

There are 553 patients in need of palliative care at the hospice. Carolyne Wandia is yet to come to terms with the pain her 83-year-old father endured while fighting for his life at their home at Golf Course Phase 2 estate in Nairobi.

Benson Waciira was diagnosed with pancreatic and prostate cancer in November, last year at Kenyatta National Hospital. He asked to be placed under palliative care at home and the family contracted a nurse who was charging between Sh1,200 and Sh1,500 daily, depending on services offered. At some point Waciira underwent a procedure to restore his bile.

He would be visited by a doctor at least twice a week. “We adhered to my father’s wish and placed him on painkillers. We wanted him to have quality care at home,” says Wandia. On April 2, the doctor discovered that he had shortness of breath and was in need of oxygen.

The family decided to hire an ambulance to transport Waciira to the nearest facility, but it arrived about one hour later. “We needed a vehicle with oxygen to take him to hospital, but we waited so long,” she recalls. By the time he arrived at Coptic Hospital, Waciira was short of breath and died on April 3.

“Perhaps if my father had oxygen on time, he could have survived,” she says during the interview. In line with government guidelines to curb the spread of Covid-19, the family was not allowed to hold meetings for funeral arrangements.“We were directed to travel to our rural village in Karatina to bury and immediately get back the very day. I wished I could give my father a befitting send-off. This makes his death so painful,” says Wandia. Jonathan Lemian is also ailing at home after he was diagnosed with cancer of the skin.

He endures pain on the wound on his right hand. The 49-year-old dresses the wound with a piece of cloth, but the condition worsens each day. The patient, who was diagnosed with cancer last August at Tenwek Mission Hospital, has been visiting Narok Hospital, but there are no specialists nor morphine to ease the pain. He fears travelling to Nairobi to replenish morphine because of congestion in public transport that could predispose him to Covid-19.

“Last time I travelled to Nairobi I pleaded with the county to provide me with an ambulance. How can I travel by public means and get back safely,” he poses. Before outbreak of the pandemic, he used to travel to Cancer Centre in Nairobi every two weeks for review by a specialist. At the facility, he would undergo chemotherapy, wound care, radiotherapy and receive psycho-social support.

“Interacting with other patients used to give me hope of seeing tomorrow, but my faith is waning daily. I a weak inside,” he says. The patient communicates with his doctor through tele-medicine to get instructions on how to nurse the wound. “I keep my doctor informed about my condition, however, I need check-up because I feel weak day by day,” says Lemian.

Nafula Wekesa, palliative care specialist at Health Care Global, Cancer Care Kenya advises patients to limit interactions and hospital visits because of their compromised immune system. Dr Wekesa urges care givers and patients to wear protective gear like masks to limit chances of contracting Covid-19.

Severe complications

She advises patients to go for regular medical check-up. “Patients need to be evaluated and given care in hospitals, services that can be offered through telecommunication,” she says.Wekesa notes that palliative care patients lack morphine that relieves severe cancer pain. She explains that Kenya Medical Supplies Agency received only 11kg of morphine powder on February 19, despite average consumption in the country being 50kg annually.

“It is estimated that only one to 10 cancer patients in public hospitals have access to morphine,” she says. Wekesa regrets that there are few trained palliative care givers managing patients at home. “Not everyone understands how to take care of the sick. Lack of skilled care providers may result to severe complications that are noticed at advanced stages, leading to deaths,” she says.

She adds that emotional support to patients can be given through telemedicine, which is part of psycho-social support.

“Counselling can be given through phone, video, WhatsApp and zoom calls,” she says. For dying patients, Wekesa advises families to record audio or calls that can be played at the hospital for the sick.


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Ben Githae opens up about marital issues that almost left him depressed



Gospel singer Ben Githae did not have it easy in 2019. This is after his alleged side chick exposed him for neglecting their twin daughters.

According to the baby mama identified as Rose Wanjiru; the singer had been neglecting his responsibilities as a dad. She went on t0 add that the singer had even been threatening of killing her; after she refused to have an arbortion when the pregnancy was still young.

The serious allegations left Ben Githae ready to share his side of the story; but when you cheat on your wife of 18 years, how do you explain yourself?

Ben Githae (left) with his baby mama and Twins

Ben Githae speaks

Addressing this issue, singer Githae denied all the stories shared by his baby mama. He went on to claim that everything said was a lie aimed at making him look bad. According to him, he has been supporting his girls and has not reason to abandon them;

Contrary to what Wanjiru says, I have constantly featured in the lives of our girls. I have always taken care of them.
I have been taking all the responsibilities. I have been paying the house rent for her, doing everything for her. This woman is out to tarnish my name.

Became a Laughing stock

After his affair with Rose went public; Githae says life changed as he became a topic of discussion among his friends. He went on to add that some would even remind him of the mistakes he did.

Ben Githae’s other family

But after seeing what depression had done to a few celebrities and pastors he knew; Githae recollected himself and decided to work on becoming a better person. This is because he was not ready to kill himself over mistakes that had already occured.

“It is deeply eating them in the present. Sh*t happens as it happened to me a few years ago and was exposed early last year. I became a laughing stock but I refused to die. I remained strong. I refused depression. I prayed for forgiveness from family, friends and the public. Most forgave me but a few keep reminding me of that bitter past,”

In conclusion Ben Githae said;

Believe the report of the Lord for He is a God of a second chance. Be resilient.”



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Anxiety high over Uhuru speech



If there was a day Kenyans have recently looked forward to, it is today. This is the day the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on the country to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus is supposed to end after President Uhuru Kenyatta extended it for 21 days last month.

But recent statements by senior government officials have tended to dampen the expectations of a majority of Kenyans, with some resigning to the possibility of the perpetuation of the status quo or a new order with just slight changes.

Friday, Cabinet secretaries seemed to be managing the people’s high expectations, with hints that a wholesome opening of the economy could lead to a spike in Covid-19 cases and put the vulnerable members – such as old parents – at risk when they host their kin from the cities.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha Friday hinted that schools will not be opened any time soon.

“The ministry will advise the level of preparedness that will be required of all stakeholders involved in the running of schools and teacher training institutions,” he said.

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho earlier in the week said the government was considering a phased easing of the Covid-19 restrictions to help people to generate incomes.

He said Kenyans should not expect a sudden return of normalcy.

President Kenyatta has also been facing pressure from religious leaders to open places of worship. Religious organisations have formally written to him asking for a review of the measures and promising to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and his Health counterpart Mutahi Kagwe met with religious leaders ahead of the handover of the report from the National Coordination Committee on Coronavirus to discuss how to proceed with religious activities in the event the government agrees to relax some of its guidelines.

Dr Matiang’i said the contents of the report will be communicated by the President.

Mr Kagwe urged religious leaders to assist in effecting home-based quarantine, a measure that the government is advocating as it moves to ease the Covid-19 restrictions.

Kenyans took to social media to express their optimism – and pessimism – about today’s speech by the President.

From making merry at entertainment joints to travel and reuniting with loved ones and lovers, expectations were so high that the hashtag #June6th was the number one trending topic locally on Twitter.

Tweeters filed their wishlists, a majority of which were hilarious.

Yet others just wanted the economy to be opened up.


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Dr Amoth attends burial with 400 people to represent Kagwe – PHOTOS + VIDEO



The government is on the spot for applying double standards in the enforcement of Covid-19 prevention protocols, giving preferential treatment to particular politicians and well-connected individuals.

This was evident in Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe’s backyard in Mukurweini, Nyeri County where more than 400 people were allowed to attend the funeral of a retired teacher on Friday.

The government set out regulations banning all social gatherings specifically limiting the number of mourners attending a funeral to 15 close relatives.

However, for this particular funeral, a crowd of more than 400 locals from the Kihate area were allowed to gather at Mutwewathi Primary School grounds right under the watch of police, leaders and even senior ministry of health officials.

Health Ministry Director General Patrick Amoth led a delegation from the ministry to represent CS Kagwe who was also expected to attend the ceremony.

Mukurweini MP Anthony Kiai and Nyeri County Assembly Speaker John Kaguchia also attended the funeral.

A contingent of police officers from the National Police Service and the Kenya Forest Service had been posted at the venue to beef up security.

About 20 ushers had been posted at the entrance to screen mourners and hand out face masks to locals, many of whom showed up without.

DN and NTV crews were roughed up for taking photos of the funeral where at least 400 people were in attendance. PHOTO | NICOLAS KOMU

Hired goons were also later deployed with apparent instructions to separate the crowd from journalists and bar the press from accessing the school grounds.

Journalists from the Daily Nation, Joseph Kanyi, and NTV’s Melita Ole Tenges and Charles Muriithi were roughed up by the rowdy youth backed up by a gun-toting KFS officer for recording proceedings of the funeral.

They were demanding that the scribes delete all recording and photos they had taken.

“We are here to observe just how the government is enforcing its own directives. It is sad to see police officers harass journalists for doing their job,” Mr Tenges said.

The funeral went on uninterrupted and leaders present allowed to give speeches, including Dr Amoth.

Ironically, this comes barely a week after a widower was forced to spend a night at Tigania Police station with his wife’s body after relatives were barred from proceeding to their home for burial.

Charles Mwenda was forced to proceed for his wife’s burial at Kianjai in Meru County alone after a night of horror in the police station.

A similar incident was witnessed in Mathira, Nyeri County where Konyu Ward MCA Eric Wamumbi was forced to cut short his tribute to his deceased wife by police.

Police were deployed to ensure a limited number of mourners attended and the time for the funeral limited to 45 minutes.

“I am saddened that the police have no respect for the church and no feelings towards a family that had lost a loved one. It is very sad as to how low we have gone,” Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua said during Mr Wamumbi’s wife’s funeral.

By Nairobi News

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