Human Rights Watch Report - Needless pain, government failure to provide palliative care for children in Kenya

14 September 2010

This Human Rights Watch report found that most Kenyan children with diseases such as cancer or HIV/AIDS are unable to get palliative care or pain medicines. Kenya's few palliative care services provide counseling and support to families of chronically ill patients, as well as pain treatment, but lack programs for children. In addition, the majority of sick children are cared for at home, but there is little support for low-cost home-based palliative care. Health care workers lack training in pain treatment and palliative care, and even when strong pain medicines are available, they are often reluctant to give these medicines to children.

"Kenyan children with cancer or AIDS are living, and dying, in horrible agony," said Juliane Kippenberg, senior children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Pain medicines are cheap, safe, and effective, and the government should make sure that children who need them get them."

The Kenyan government has taken a step in the right direction by establishing a few hospital palliative care units in recent years, Human Rights Watch said. But much more needs to be done to stop sick children from suffering needlessly.

Click here to read the full report.