The Ministry of Health (MoH) jointly with Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) on Friday disseminated guidelines for palliative care and cancer management in Kenya alongside other palliative care documents in Thika.

During the dissemination exercise, MoH Head of Oncology Dr Izaq Odongo said that the guidelines would improve access to quality and safe cancer treatment.

Dr Odongo said that the documents aim at standardizing and harmonizing cancer treatment and help the government in planning for the future.

“These documents are user friendly. Pass the message to your colleagues,” said Dr Odongo.

He said that palliative care plays an important role in cancer management adding that there are patients who opt for the service because they feel they will run bankrupt if they tried treating the illness and later end up seeking palliative care.

The guidelines, according to Dr Odongo, will facilitate development of an essential cancer medicine list and equipment for cancer treatment.

Speaking separately at a palliative care training in Thika Level 5 Hospital, Dr Odongo said that palliative care is moving from strength to strength.

“Let the Level 5 Hospitals act as hubs that will be used to spread the message to other health care centers using the Training of Trainees (ToT) approach. KEHPCA cannot do it alone,” said Dr Odongo.

He told the trainees that they are palliative care ambassadors and all they need is to take a step and acquire diplomas and degrees in the field.

In the next 20 years, Dr Odongo said that palliative care will have gone far in Kenya given the current progress.

“During the course of life, you will come across patients with life threatening illnesses. You are moving from strength to strength and our duty as the ministry is to continue supporting your good work with guidelines and standards,” said Dr Odongo.

Head of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) at the MoH Dr Joseph Kibachio said that palliative care is part and parcel of primary health care.

He said that previously, health care had been separated from palliative care and he was happy that Dr Zipporah Ali, KEHPCA’s Executive Director, is working hard to integrate palliative care into the health system.

“I am happy that we have come together to chat this way forward. We are challenging those working in HIV to look into other risk factors of NCDs and we are happy that palliative care strikes across all life threatening illnesses,” said Dr Kibachio.

He said that cancer is not a one man show adding that there is need to empower people and the community.

“These are just documents. If we do not read and put them into action, they will go to waste,” said Dr Kibachio.

Dr Zipporah Ali said that the dissemination of palliative care guidelines will provide a direction for the establishment and implementation of palliative care services in the country.

“These documents will promote access to quality palliative care services including pain and symptom control,” said Dr Ali.

She said that this is a basis for the development of palliative care standards in the country that will give a guide in establishment of a palliative care policy.

Besides the cancer treatment and palliative care guidelines, other documents disseminated during the exercise were; Legal Aspects in Palliative Care Handbook, National Palliative Care Training Curriculum Trainees and Trainers manuals as well as the National Palliative Care Training Curriculum for HIV/AIDS, Cancer and other life threatening illnesses.

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