Family Caregiving: – The Missed Opportunity in Kenya’s 2019 Census: Part 1

Family Caregiving: – The Missed Opportunity in Kenya’s 2019 Census: Part 1

“Count me in!” “Nipo! Natambulika!” “Jitokeze uhesabike!” and other catchy phrases marked the awareness campaign to the build up to the 2019 census.

2022 is the most vogue brand of eyewear in Kenya at the moment. Vogue but seriously hampering the proper view of many things that should be mission critical to this country’s progress such as the 2019 census. If remedial action isn’t taken about the collective lenses being worn by many, this country will be tripping over many important things way beyond 2022. One such issue that is increasingly becoming a reality for many Kenyans is family caregiving. The 2019 census was an excellent opportunity to capture information that would shape how the hidden impact of illness on the economy is addressed by many sectors of the country. Then again, it was called a population and housing census not a demographic and health survey. It may therefore not be fair to pass judgement by declaring it a missed opportunity. Just maybe … perhaps … the issue of family caregiving will be captured in the next demographic and health survey. Perhaps.

The growing prevalence of non-communicable diseases in Kenya such as stroke, cancer, end stage renal failure, lupus, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases; mental health and neurological disorders including severe depression, anxiety disorders, bi-polar, schizophrenia; geriatric diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s; congenital conditions like autism, downs syndrome and cerebral palsy; as well as end stage communicable diseases such as AIDS has resulted in an increasing number of family caregivers in the country. The reality is caregiving is becoming the new normal.

Mention family caregivers and some people think you are talking about the latest title for house helps. So just who are family caregivers? Family caregivers are individuals who provide physical, emotional and spiritual support for a family member, neighbour or friend who has a debilitating physical or mental health condition. This may be part-time or full time for someone the family caregiver lives with or may be long distance as is increasingly common with eldercare. Interestingly research in some countries shows that it takes 67% of caregivers almost 2 years before they realise they are so. Why? They are just doing what usually comes naturally in their family relationships. But it shouldn’t take policy makers long to begin to seriously look at the impact of family care giving on the country.

True there were a few health related questions….. but errrrmmm …… OK The Missed Opportunity in Kenya’s 2019 Census: Part 2 ……..