In a major step towards improving palliative care services in Kenya, the country has launched its first ever National Palliative Care Policy. Launched to coincide with World Hospice and Palliative Care Day in October, the new policy is the culmination of hard work and advocacy by the Kenya Hospice and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) working in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Health.
As a starting point in the development of the policy, a survey was carried out in 2018 to identify gaps in palliative care services in Kenya. The survey revealed that of 800,000 Kenyans in need of palliative care annually, less than 15,000 people were able to access services. For children, access to services was found to be even more severely limited. Major gaps identified included lack of health workers with skills in palliative care, lack of community awareness on the role of palliative care in a range of conditions, and lack of services and facilities.
To work towards meeting this need, the policy provides a framework for implementation of palliative care as part of Universal Health Coverage and a guiding tool for policy makers and health service managers to finance palliative care services for all people in need in Kenya.
This crucial step is testament to the hard work and advocacy by our partner KEHPCA. This year we are supporting KEHPCA’s work by helping them to train Palliative care nurse leaders who will champion palliative care and train others. We are also supporting the development of resources for health workers on the role of palliative care in a range of communicable and non-communicable diseases.