“Compassion is the emotion of empathy that one feels in response to the suffering of others that motivates help.” Professor Dr. Anne Merriman founder of Hospice Africa Uganda and a Nobel peace prize nominee started her talk on the value of compassion to palliative care. Explained the ethos of their organization by stating the three elements of the hospice ethos; putting the patients and their family at the centre of everything, caring for each other in the team, “we have to be better people to be in palliative care” and the third is the support for partner organization encouraging team work. We are not in competition against each other rather we are playing in the same team. Quoting the African saying “If you want to go fast you go alone if you want to go far you go together.” Always have the patients best interest at the back of your mind was the message behind the compassion message. This was during the 4th Kenya National Palliative Care Conference that happened in Nairobi Kenya at the Laico Regency Hotel from the 12th to the 14 November.
Prof. /Dr Anne Merriman was among the awarded in the awards ceremony during the second day of the conference. She played a big role in palliative care ensuring that morphine was available in Africa among other selfless duties she has done over the years in ensuring palliative care is easily available. Others who received awards were Dr. Faith Mwangi-Powell USAID-ASSIST Project Chief of Party and Dr. Brigid Sirengo, OGW CEO- Nairobi Hospice.
The conference also had The Executive Director – Africa Palliative Care Association Dr. Emmanuel Luyirika as one of the keynote speakers. He started with thanking Dr. Zipporah Ali for the work she is doing at KEHPCA. Dr. Luyirika spoke on strengthening of palliative care by engaging the government and working in collaboration with W.H.O (World Health Organization). He listed roles the government should play to help mobilize palliative care including; integrating palliative care training into the curriculum, foster partnerships between the government & the civil society ensure adequate membership funding to provide basic support to the family and community among others. “Let us support each other from community level rather than hospital level to ensure palliative care is accessible.” Palliative care needs to start in the community. Interviewed after the conference Dr. Luyirika commended the general outcome of the conference saying it was a National conference with a regional outlook. “The conference remained focus on the complex needs of patients who need palliative care ranging from pain management to legal issue.”