On 19-20 September 2011 the United Nations General Assembly held a High Level meeting on the prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases.

Dr Zipporah Ali, National Co-ordinator of KEHPCA attended to advocate for palliative care as an essential aspect of treatment for patients with Non-Communicable diseases.

In attendance from the Kenyan government were President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki and Cabinet Ministers Prof. Nyang Nyong’o, Moses Wetangula, Beth Mugo, Wycliffe Oparanya, Chirau Mwakwere, Noah Wekesa and other senior government officials.

President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki joined other World leaders to address the High Level meeting, asserting that prevention and control of non-communicable diseases must be prioritized in both national and international development agendas. The President emphasized that Non-Communicable diseases were a major public health concern in Kenya, contributing to over 50 per cent of hospital admissions and over half of all hospital deaths in the country.

President Kibaki highlighted how the Kenyan government are working to institute various preventive and curative measures as well as anchoring them on legislative frameworks, citing the National Cancer Control Strategy and the finalization of a Draft Cancer Bill to comprehensively guide the control and treatment of cancer.

Non-communicable diseases contribute to 13 per cent of overall mortality in Kenya with cancer and diabetes being responsible for 7 and 4 per cent of the deaths respectively.

Participants at the meeting adopted a declaration calling for a multi-pronged campaign by governments, industry and civil society to set up by 2013 the plans needed to curb the risk factors behind the four groups of NCDs – cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

In the official press release Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the declaration on NCDs noted that over a quarter of all people who die from NCDs succumb in the prime of their lives, the vast majority of them in developing countries.“Our collaboration is more than a public health necessity. Non-communicable diseases are a threat to development. NCDs hit the poor and vulnerable particularly hard, and drive them deeper into poverty”.

The UN made five recommendations to further progress, including a focus on palliative care through “sustained primary healthcare measures, including prioritised packages of essential interventions, along with palliative and long-term care, for those who already have noncommunicable diseases or who are at high risk of contracting them.”