Stella Mwari Rithara is an active palliative care public health champion and leading nurse trainer in Kenya. She is a palliative care pioneer recognized by St. Christopher’s Hospice, a mentor at the Institute of Palliative Medicine in India, and Palliative Care Coordinator for the Nursing Deparment of Kenya Medical Training College.
Her interest in palliative care developed soon after she began working at Nairobi Hospice in 2005, which led to a postgraduate degree in palliative care from Oxford Brookes University in the UK, a fellowship in palliative care at the Institute of Palliative Care Medicine in India, and oncology nursing distance education courses in Canada. Ms. Rithara joined Kenya Medical Training College in 2012 and, with the support of Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care (KEHPCA), she developed its Higher Diploma in Palliative Care Nursing program—a first for the college, but also for any government institution in Kenya. Ms. Rithara’s interest in advocating for areas and communities with no access to palliative or end-of-life care is a passion that she brings into the classroom when tutoring and mentoring students at the college.
Ms. Rithara is the founder and co-director of Ongata Ngong Palliative Care Community (ONPACC), a community-based organization established in 2012 with the goal of promoting community health through building capacity. Steps taken to achieve that goal include increasing palliative care knowledge, community health education, home health care services, and establishing outreach clinics in Kajiado County, which is part of the Rift Valley region of Kenya. Ms. Rithara has earned a grant to train volunteers in western Kajiado to increase awareness and improve quality of life. Over the years she has worked closely with community health volunteers to increasing public literacy about life-threatening illnesses and death, bringing these topics out into the open and, in doing so, lessening their taboo within the community. Quality palliative care is her mantra.
Ms. Rithara has attended and presented at several palliative care conferences globally; is an active member of KEHPCA; is a member of the Nursing Council of Kenya; is founder of Nyoto Fitti, a breast cancer advocacy group that conducts awareness campaigns among rural women; and is a member of the ABC (Advanced Breast Cancer) Global Alliance. Ms. Rithara is a recipient of the Africa Palliative Care Association award for recruiting members, and won the Cynthia N. Rittenberg Nurse of the Year Travel Scholarship in 2017.
She joined IAHPC in June 2007 and has been actively recruiting members since. She looks forward to helping to grow the membership, do fundraising, support advocacy, create awareness about palliative care, and be part of palliative care policies and decisions.
She enjoys traveling, early morning walks, palliative networking, and community education.