In August of 2015, six students from Tufts University were paired with a mix of six photojournalism students and young professional photographers in Kenya to collaborate on a series of character-based, multimedia narratives to bring a human face to the extremity children and adults face in living with life-limiting illnesses without access to pain medications and palliative care, as well as to those working to extend palliative care in Kenya.
The hope of the project is that medical professionals, government officials and activists in Kenya and beyond will be able to use these narratives in their campaigns to expand palliative care and break the logjams that currently prevent access to pain medications.
It is important to note that Kenya is not alone in its challenge to meet the palliative care and pain management needs of its citizens. This is a widespread, global issue.
It is estimated that more than six billion people worldwide lack access to adequate pain relief. Opioid analgesics, including morphine, are considered essential medicines by the World Health Organization, yet 85 percent of the world’s population consumes just seven percent of the global annual use of pain medications. It is estimated that these low- and middle- income countries account for 70 percent of cancer deaths and 99 percent of HIV/AIDS deaths, two of the most common illnesses that result in intense, end-of-life pain.
In addition to raising the consciousness of the government, the medical community and the public about the need for access to pain medicines, this project engaged students from Kenya and the US in cross-cultural learning and collaboration and developed their skills in non-fiction, narrative storytelling and photography.
The project was sponsored by the Public Health Program of the Open Society Foundations.