Advocacy or advocating for something implies speaking for others. The Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA), does its best to bring about positive change on behalf of the people who need care the most in our population.

Health advocacy includes educating policymakers and the public about evidence-based policy. Palliative care advocacy is strengthened when it includes the voices of those who deliver and receive essential services and can give temoignage to the unmet need for palliative care. Direct stakeholders also play a critical role in amplifying these voices. They are the champions herein referred to as; persons living with palliative care needs (PLWPCNs). They should always be involved in their own care and decision making.

This is in line with George Herbert’s wisdom, “Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.”

Palliative care should be delivered at the primary level (by community-based healthcare professionals and disease-oriented professionals such as oncologists, cardiologist, etc); at the secondary level (primary healthcare professionals in consultation with palliative care specialists for patients with more complex problems); and at tertiary level (palliative care specialists for the patient with the most complex problems and who will be in charge of education and research in the region).

On 11th of August 2020, KEHPCA organized and coordinated a palliative care champions advocacy virtual call, bringing together PLWPCNs, carers, and palliative care providers.

The theme was, Inclusion of People Living with Palliative Care Needs (PLWPCNs) in advocacy for access to palliative care and COVID-19 response.

We can advocate for palliative care at both the international and national levels. The most influential space is the national level of every society. Policymakers must ensure universal palliative care training among healthcare professionals who provide care to patients with chronic progressive diseases. They must also modify structures, processes, and outcomes in the healthcare system to allow patients with more complex problems access to secondary and tertiary palliative care.

Representatives of national associations should be effective advocates and work with their governments in the process of implementing an international policy framework, including Conventions, Resolutions, and Declarations in their countries.

Patients who require palliative care often have diverse and overlapping health needs and they may be staying at home, in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals. Delivery of holistic services to patients requires multidisciplinary teams that may work in the national/public health system, the religious or non-government sectors.

We should continue to make the most of self-driven initiatives. There is a need for us to continue learning.  “KEHPCA will continue to host and run webinars and sessions tackling emerging needs. We are currently living in different times than before as we adapt to the predicament we find ourselves in with COVID-19. We continue to do our best to make the voices of PLWPNs heard.” – David Musyoki – Advocacy Officer, Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA)

PLWPCNs reminds us – “Nothing for us without us”.