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Integration Of Palliative Care Into Public Health Services In Kenya

Nairobi, October 27th 2011- The Kenya Hospice and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) announced a major programme in partnership with The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and the True Colours Trust to support the integration of palliative care into public health services in Kenya.

The partnership is through the Waterloo Coalition – a collaboration of donors and palliative care organisations working in Kenya and Malawi. The Ministry of Health has identified eleven public level 5 and provincial hospitals across the country in which to establish palliative care services for the care of patients with life-limiting illnesses.

The Government of Kenya’s commitment to establish palliative care services in these hospitals will guarantee a more effective, efficient, and equitable health system. A health system that includes palliative care services is vital to ensure widespread pain and symptom control and an improvement in the general care, support and quality of life for patients and families facing life-threatening illnesses in Kenya.

This significant public-private partnership will focus on the development and implementation of a national training programme for the integration of palliative care into hospital services, the development and dissemination of comprehensive palliative care guidelines, provision of technical support and mentorship, and the measurement of the impact.

Over 220 health care professionals will be trained in palliative care throughout the programme, with eight established Kenyan hospices to mentor the newly emerging hospital palliative care units. The programme will ensure that local community healthcare professionals are aware of the new palliative care services at the hospital so that patients and families receive smooth and timely referrals.

KEHPCA project that the partnership will enable an additional 4,000 new adult cancer patients and 5,000 adult HIV / AIDS patients to receive high quality palliative care through the new hospital units in a period of one year. It is also projected that an additional 500 new paediatric cancer patients and 1,000 paediatric HIV / AIDS patients will receive palliative care through the new hospital units each year.

Dr. Zipporah Ali, National Coordinator, KEHPCA, explains ‘Effective palliative care results in patients spending more time at home and reduces the number of hospital inpatient days. It improves symptom management; provides patient, family and care giver satisfaction; reduces the overall cost of disease and improves quality of life of patients and family.

This partnership will demonstrate and document these benefits and will highlight how palliative care can be used to strengthen the government health care system.’

Lucy Sainsbury, Chair, True Colours Trust, said ‘The Government of Kenya’s commitment to integrate palliative care into eleven public level 5 and provincial hospitals is commendable. We are delighted to be part of this partnership. It will help ensure that people with life-limiting illnesses across Kenya are able to access pain relief and symptom control.’

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