In Kenya, the development of palliative care has come a long way since the first palliative care centre opened its doors in 1990. Nairobi Hospice, a member of the Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association, has been spearheading the provision of palliative care service to Persons Living with Palliative Care Needs (PLWPCNs) for over 30 years. 8th October 2021, the eve of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2021, was a unique and memorable day for the palliative care fraternity. This was a celebration of the launch of the first-ever Kenyan Palliative Care Policy and the grand opening of the new Nairobi Hospice facility.

Her Excellency, the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, was the chief guest for this historic celebration.  While addressing the invited dignitaries, The First Lady acknowledged the efforts put forth by the various contributors of the policy. The policy has seven key pillars including advocacy and communication, service delivery, financing among others. It provides a road map whose implementation will lead to equity in access to quality palliative care.

During her address, the First Lady emphasized that palliative care is a basic human right that should be provided to all in need. In line with the theme of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day 2021, ‘Leave No One Behind’ – Equity in access to palliative care, she appealed for palliation to be included in primary health care.

“Limited resources, inadequate number of trained workforce, and insufficient medicine and medical supplies, are among the many challenges that the policy will address,” said the first lady. She also urged the Ministry of Health to ensure that palliative care is mainstreamed into the country’s healthcare system through Universal Health Coverage (UHC) reforms.

Other guests who graced the event included Dr. Mercy Mwangagi, Chief Administrator Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Council of Governors Health Committee Vice Chairman who is also the Busia Governor Hon. Sospeter Ojaamong, the Chairman of Nairobi Hospice, Dr. Frederick Bukachi, and Nyeri’s Deputy Governor also the Goodwill Ambassador for Palliative Care Hon. Dr. Caroline Karugu.

It is imperative that the policy is disseminated to all the counties in Kenya. KEHPCA the umbrella body for hospices and palliative care providers and other partners, advocates for the policy’s implementation.  The national policy will catapult the effort in making quality palliative care accessible for all.