Hospital treatment is generally associated with 'getting better', the restoration to health and normal life. The onset of a life-threatening disease such as cancer, however, can transform the hospital into a place of constant struggle and suffering. Hospitalization in this sense coincides with the deterioration of patients' and their families' overall well-being. Drawing on twelve months of ethnographic research in a cancer ward in Nairobi, Kenya, between August 2005 and July 2006, this dissertation examines how the life and experiences of cancer in-patients in a Kenyan referral hospital relate to their needs, and what elements characterize their hospitalization. It shows that patients' suffering should be viewed within the context of a wider spectrum of adversity. The book deals with the ambiguity of a hospital stay and treatment, showing how a hospital can both alleviate as well as increase human suffering. The author advocates patient-centred hospital ethnography as a way to improve the understanding of cancer patients' needs, both medical and non-medical, as they struggle to restore their well-being. [ASC Leiden abstract]
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Year of publication: 2010
Series: African Studies Collection
Volume: 22
Benson A. Mulemi
African Studies Centre
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