First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has appealed to healthcare service providers in the country to include palliative care, including cancer management, as part of primary healthcare packages offered to Kenyans.
The First Lady said the provision of palliative care, which she termed as a human right, would help lower the nation’s disease burden, and challenged decision-makers in Kenya’s health sector to ensure the services are available across the country.
“Palliative care is recognised as a human right, because of the rising burden of non-communicable diseases that have caused life-limiting illnesses to millions of people globally. It requires the creation of systems and adaptation of how we deliver healthcare,” she said.
The First Lady spoke Friday at the Nairobi Hospice in Nairobi County where she officially opened the facility and unveiled Kenya’s first Palliative Care Policy.
Besides providing relief to patients suffering from various ailments, the First Lady said palliative care was crucial in restoring dignity and, providing love and comfort in difficult times of ill-health.
“We have all experienced the pain families endure when loved ones have been diagnosed with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Cancer, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular diseases, dementia and kidney failure as some of the ailments that require this care.
“It is even more discouraging to note that these services are severely limited among children. For this reason, I urge that we find solutions that will accelerate the integration of palliative care across all levels,” said the First Lady.
Once again, the First Lady championed increased involvement of community health workers in the provision of palliative care through training and capacity building.
“I urge that this cadre of health caregivers are incorporated into palliative care training to build their skills in supporting patients and families in home settings,” she said.
The First Lady congratulated the Ministry of Health for developing Kenya’s first National Palliative Care Policy which she said will help accelerate the provision of the key service in the country.
“I believe that this Policy will go a long way in identifying solutions and paving way for increased allocation of resources to establish more palliative and hospice centres; it will also provide the necessary template for provision of affordable medicine and treatment for managing symptoms,” the First Lady noted.
Health CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi said the new policy will help steer the Government’s ambitious plan to increase the number of palliative care centres in the country while WHO Country Representative Dr Juliet Nabyonga assured of organization’s support for Kenya’s health sector.
Council of Governors Health Committee Vice Chairman who is also the Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong and the Chairman of the Nairobi Hospice Dr Frederick Bukachi also attended the launch event.