Background: In Kenya, cancers as a disease group rank third as a cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that the annual incidence of cancer is about 37,000 new cases with an annual mortality of 28,000 cases (Kenya National Cancer Control Strategy 2010). The incidence of non-communicable diseases accounts for more than 50% of total hospital admissions and over 55% of hospital deaths (Kenya National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Non Communicable Diseases 2015–2020). The prevalence of HIV is 6.8 (KIAS 2014). Most of these patients will benefit from palliative care services, hence the need to integrate palliative care services in the public healthcare system.
Method: The process of integrating palliative care in public hospitals involved advocacy both at the national level and at the institutional level, training of healthcare professionals, and setting up services within the hospitals that we worked with. Technical support was provided to each individual institution as needed.
Results: Eleven provincial hospitals across the country have now integrated palliative care services (Palliative Care Units) and are now centres of excellence. Over 220 healthcare providers have been trained, and approximately, over 30,000 patients have benefited from these services. Oral morphine is now available in the hospital palliative care units.
Conclusion: As a success of the pilot project, Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) is now working with the Ministry of Health Kenya to integrate palliative care services in 30 other county hospitals across the country, thus ensuring more availability and access to more patients. Other developing countries can learn from Kenya’s successful experience.