Pediatric Palliative Care

Palliative care for children (Paediatric palliative care)represents a special, albeit closely related field to adult palliative care. It is a method for delivering competent, compassionate and consistent care to children with chronic, complex and/or life threatening conditions and their families.

Paediatric Palliative Care does not aim to cure disease, but to prevent suffering and improve quality of life for Kenya’s youngest terminally ill patients, aged 0-16. Paediatric Palliative Care can be delivered at home, in a hospice, or a hospital, and focuses on treating pain and other physical symptoms, providing psychosocial support, and complementary care and treatment to children suffering life limiting illnesses and their families and carers.

World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of palliative care appropriate for children and their families is as follows:

  • Palliative care for children is the active total care of the child’s body, mind and spirit, and also involves giving support to the family.
  • It begins when illness is diagnosed, and continues regardless of whether or not a child receives treatment directed at the disease.
  • Health providers must evaluate and alleviate a child’s physical, psychological, and social distress.
  • Effective palliative care requires a broad multidisciplinary approach that includes the family and makes use of available community resources; it can be successfully implemented even if resources are limited.
  • It can be provided in tertiary care facilities, in community health centres and even in children’s homes.


    S – Seek early medical help for persistent symptoms
    I – Eye – white spot in the eye, new squint, blindness, bulging eye
    L – Lump abdomen and pelvis, head and neck, limbs, testes, glands
    U – Unexplained prolonged fever for 2 weeks, weight loss, pallor, fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding
    A – Aching bones, joints, back, and easy fractures
    N – Neurological signs – change or deterioration in walk, balance, speech, regression of milestones, headache for more than 2 weeks with or without vomiting, enlarging head