How we promote access to palliative care services >
KEHPCA represents all palliative care providers in Kenya, ensuring no one with a life threatening illness lives or dies with unnecessary pain and distress. Advocating for integration of palliative care into the public health care system and the universal coverage package.
1. Capacity building
KEHPCA believes in having informed and empowered workforce who are the direct providers of care. To this effect, the national association has championed several training programs that have enhanced the capacity of over 5,000 professionals and volunteers on palliative care on a wide range of topics including; pain management, proper use of analgesics and opioids, care provision in various settings, bereavement support, breaking of bad news, psychosocial and spirituality aspects, among others. The training programs include a Higher Diploma Course in palliative care at Kenya Medical Training College, integration of PC into various health core curricula, online training programs, short courses in PC, bespoke training among others. In addition, KEHPCA also conducts capacity building on legal aspects in PC and empowers PLWPCN to enable them advocate for better access to PC services.
2. Research, information and technology
Quality research is essential to promote access to palliative care services. KEHPCA has incorporated World Health Organisation (WHO) strategy on research focusing on; strengthening health care systems through integration of palliative care services, addressing palliative care needs, promoting good palliative care practices and translating evidence in to practice. KEHPCA is leveraging on the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for health to promote palliative care services in the country. The association is continuously exploring innovative ICT opportunities to scale up access to services; capacity building, patient care and data management. KEHPCA has worked with reputable stakeholders to undertake various research projects.
3. Health System Strengthening
KEHPCA supports the World Health Organization (WHO) public health model(Provide link) to support the integration of palliative care into existing health care services. This model has four key elements: Policy, Education, Access to essential medicines and Implementation. Therefore, KEHPCA recognizes the contribution palliative care makes to strengthening health systems and the opportunities for governments to work with palliative care organizations to optimize health care delivery to communities. In line with this, KEHPCA has worked with Ministry of Health-Kenya government to integrate palliative care into the formal health care sector as an effective way to strengthen the health system within the country through:
• Integrating palliative care into the country’s health care system -currently, 33 out 47 counties have successfully integrated palliative care
• Ensuring that all health care workers are trained in palliative care-inclusion of palliative care in the core curricula for undergraduate medical and nursing curricula
• Recognizing community-based organizations as important providers of palliative care
• Supporting and working in collaboration other relevant stakeholders in the delivery of palliative care
• Access to essential palliative care medicines including opioids
• Creating awareness to the policy makers and the community
KEHPCA continues to advocate to the government to budget for and provide funding for palliative care services at all levels of care.
4. Cancer Treatment and Palliation
In Kenya, there are estimated 1.5 million persons in need of palliative care services as a result of both communicable and non communicable diseases yet less than 10% have access. Cancer is a signifi¬cant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide with approximately 18.1 million new cases diagnosed in 2018. In Kenya, cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. According to Globocan 2018,(link website) the estimated number of new cancer cases was 47,887 and 32,987 cancer deaths in Kenya. The Kenya National Cancer Control Strategy 2017-2022 has a goal of reducing cancer incidence, morbidity, mortality and improving survival rate in Kenya through access to population based primary prevention, early detection, quality diagnostic, treatment and palliative care services. Cancer treatment is broad and includes surgery, chemotherapy, cryotherapy, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), radiotherapy, brachytherapy, therapeutic nuclear medicine, stem cell transplant, palliative care, rehabilitation and survivorship support. Palliative care is a key component of cancer care and is beneficial when instituted from diagnosis for both children and adults hence giving better patient outcomes once integrated.
KEHPCA is also advocating for better access to oncology services in line with UHC guidelines. The association is also strengthening oncology services through capacity building, mentorship and infrastructure.
5. Communication, community engagement and cultural transformation
KEHPCA upholds effective communication by addressing the concerns and availing needed resources to persons living with palliative care needs (PLWPCN) through the service providers and caregivers within hospices and palliative care units. PLWPCN are engaged to ensure that their issues and concerns are understood as part of the decision-making process. There is collaboration with the community by developing partnerships to formulate options and provide recommendations and train and empower advocates and champions, thus, inspiring them to be leaders within their own community to implement and manage change. KEHPCA works closely with partners such as the ministry of health, government agencies such as KEMSA, global partners and funders, the civil society, institutions of higher learning as well as palliative care providers globally. KEHPCA has recognized that community engagement is central to a successful public health model of palliative care. These services are provided in a culturally acceptable approach. The human rights approach is fundamental to the work that KEHPCA does.
6. Organization growth and Sustainability
Financial resources and services must be balanced to ensure that both the current and future needs of all stakeholders are secured. KEHPCA’s robust leadership works closely with local and international development partners to mobilize resources that help strengthen and scale up existing and upcoming PC services. KEHPCA has developed sustainable models by innovating new approaches of financing to ensure availability and access to affordable PC services to all who need it.