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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Kuala Lumpur

13th September 2012

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit a cultural fair at Kuala Lumpur City Centre Park, as part of a nine-day tour of the Far East and South Pacific, in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge continued their nine-day tour to the Far East and South Pacific on behalf of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee today, arriving in Kuala Lumpar.

Visiting Hospis Malaysia, The Duchess of Cambridge praised the work of the hospice movement today during her first speech on foreign soil.

She described the centres that care for and support the terminally ill as "life changing".

The Duchess gave her speech as she visited Hospis Malaysia, one of only a handful of medical institutions in the Commonwealth country providing support for dying patients.

The Duke and staff and supporters from the hospice, based in Kuala Lumpur, listened as The Duchess highlighted how she had learnt the importance of palliative care through her role as Patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices.

Speaking to the audience The Duchess said: "Through this patronage, I have learnt that delivering the best possible palliative care to children is vital.

"Providing children and their families with a place of support, care and enhancement at a time of great need is simply life changing.

"With effective palliative care lives can be transformed. Treatment, support, care and advice can provide a lifeline to families at a time of great need."

Institutions dedicated to providing palliative treatment for those with terminal illnesses are rare in Malaysia and across the region where families either care for dying loved ones themselves or pay for it, if funds are available.

Dr Ednin Hamzah, chief executive and medical director of the charity Hospis Malaysia, said the very presence of Their Royal Highnesses at the hospice would send a message out across the region.

He said: "The impact of this (will be felt) not just in Malaysia but other countries Thailand, Philippines," and that it would highlight how politicians' priorities can sometimes lie with other issues.

"This sort of thing doesn't exist, governments like other things they think are important."

The Duchess, who wrote her speech, said: "William and I are hugely excited to be in Malaysia - this, our first ever visit - and are absolutely delighted to have been invited to join you all here at Hospis Malaysia."

The Duchess spoke after her tour of the hospice with The Duke which lasted around an hour and concluded by saying: "This is a very special place and so much is already being achieved. It has been wonderful meeting the patients, families and all the staff here - you have given us the most wonderful welcome."

Dr Hamzah said: "She is very natural with the patients, you can see a warmth and connection there."

It is planned for East Anglia's Children's Hospices (Each) and Hospis Malaysia, a charity founded n 1991 and based in Kuala Lumpur, to set up a formal dialogue and an exchange of knowledge.

Speaking about the benefits of this relationship Dr Hamzah said: "We hope to draw on education programmes. They have public advocacy (but) here in Malaysia people don't know about hospices or palliative care. The long history of palliative care in the UK makes it wonderful to deal with."

The visit also saw the Malaysian government announce a new nationwide initiative to help with the care of terminally ill children which Hospis Malaysia is supporting.

Among the guests was Princess Raja Zarith, patron of the programme and from the royal family of the state of Johor, one of 11 royal houses in Malaysia.

A royal aide said: "The Duchess realised the hospice movement was something she could support and make a difference with and on an emotional level it's something she feels very strongly about as well.

"She is making a long-term commitment to this."

This evening, The Duke and Duchess ended a busy day of engagements at a state dinner, hosted by Malaysia's King Agong and his wife Queen Raja Persaisuri.