The care and treatment of cancer patients is a highly intensive process that requires close follow up and monitoring. It is more so in children.It can be stressful physically as well as emotionally and carers have to be fully present for them in both aspects.
The Pediatric Oncology ward at Muhimbili National Hospital has in-patient care of children undergoing invasive procedures and also chemotherapy where more than 50 children at times may need sensitive patient centered care.
Lydia Mushi is a Nurse at the Muhimbili National Hospital Pediatric Oncology Ward. Lydia and four other health workers deployed to the ward by the Mkapa Foundation with support from UNFPA provide supportive care to the children. “I cannot handle a child on my own, there has to be two of us to ensure every possible comfort for the sick child” The administration of chemotherapy requires more than one nurse and thereafter close follow up, monitor of side effects and counseling for the patient is highly necessary. The children could suffer complications at any time.
Pediatric cancer treatment may involve intensive treatment regimens, toxic chemotherapy applications, radiation, invasive surgery which may at times have neurological and psychological consequences that can only be mitigated with equally intensive care and support provided by nurses like Lydia.. Successive Treatment outcomes highly depends on the required standards of supportive health care without which, the results are poor standards of life and also poor survival rates
Efficiency of supportive care also requires appropriate numbers of staff to allow for nurse shifts. The presence of health workers has increased staff numbers greatly improving patient centered care and support and the result is much needed maximized quality of life for children suffering from cancer.
Lydia caps it all with her words “I love the kids, you have to love them with patience, and an extra dedicated heart.”