On Friday 12 August the first Kenyan Cancer Control Strategy was launched in Nairobi at a special event that was presided over by the Minister for Public Health and Sanitation, Hon. Beth Mugo. The strategy will cover a five year period from 2011-2016.
Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) has been part of the team participating in the development of the strategy which incorporates palliative care as a key component. Dr Zipporah Ali, National Co-ordinator of KEHPCA commented
“This is a great moment in the history of health care in Kenya. To have a national cancer control strategy which incorporates palliative care will result in more patients in Kenya accessing palliative care services and improved quality of life for patients and their families. KEHPCA is proud to act as a key partner in the implementation of the strategy”
The strategy makes Kenya the eleventh nation to include palliative care in their national cancer control plan* and KEHPCA further supported the launch with financial support from the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the African Palliative Care Association (APCA).
In Kenya, cancer ranks third as a cause of death after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that the annual incidence of cancer is about 28,000 cases and the annual mortality to be over 22,000; 7% of total national mortality every year.
The development of the National Cancer Control Strategy reflects the Government of Kenya’s commitment to reducing the incidence of cancer and improving the quality of life of those who develop cancer in Kenya. The strategy aims to build strong cancer prevention and control capacities both in public and private sectors through investment in cancer awareness, human resource, equipments, surveillance and research. The strategy outlines comprehensive interventions to be undertaken by the government and other partners to enhance existing structures and pull together additional resources to tackle the challenges posed by cancer. These particularly focus on enhancing early detection of cancer, streamlining the referral system for cancer patients, and human capacity development.
Pain relief and palliative care are included as a key intervention with an aim of focusing on ‘enhancing palliative care services at all levels of care especially community and home based care as part of comprehensive cancer care.’
The strategic focus on Palliative Care (see p.19 of strategy) requires:
- Integration of palliative care into national health services
- Advocacy for legislation and policies that support palliative care.
- Development and implementation of national palliative care guidelines.
- Development of curricula and training materials for palliative care.
- Development of an essential palliative care drug list and integration of it into the national essential drug list.
- Building capacity for the health care providers and care givers on palliative care.
- Conducting of awareness campaigns on palliative care targeting policy makers, public, media, health care personnel and regulators.
- Strengthening of community and home-based palliative care services including establishment of nutritional support services for cancer patients.
- Establishment of social support services for cancer patients and provision of palliative care services for groups with special needs, children and elderly.
- Development of networks, partnerships and collaboration with local and international partners.
Kenya is making progressive steps in the advancement of palliative care and KEHPCA is working closely with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation and Ministry of Medical Services, towards an aim of universal access to palliative care, including pain treatment, for those in Kenya living with life limiting conditions.
* Reported by the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance