Palliative Care Association of Malawi (PACAM) has hailed inclusion of palliative care services in government hospitals as over 90,000 patients in the country have had access to the service.
PACAM executive Director Lameck Thambo made the remarks during the Chifundo project first annual family nutrition and agriculture conference held at Mulanje Mission hospital on Friday.
Thambo said Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) hospitals were offering palliative care services before government hospitals came in.
He added that the coming in of government hospitals in offering the services has increased chances of patients getting free essential palliative care medicine in the country.
“Palliative care is making good progress in this country. Initially, only CHAM hospitals were providing palliative care services but now government hospitals have come in. Looking at the service provision at least we have 92 Palliative care hospitals in Malawi,” he said.
Thambo, however, bemoaned shortage of health workers in palliative care in hospitals which is adversely affecting the progress of Palliative care integration in the country.
He said that only a small fraction of health workers were trained in palliative care and of the few that underwent the trainings some have shunned the program.
“Palliative care is a new concept in this country and there are very few people who have knowledge, who have undergone this training. And also for those who have been trained some of them have resigned, there are no longer doing palliative care,” he said.
Palliative care Specialist Cornelius Huwa concurred with Thambo that palliative care is still a new idea despite being in the country for two almost decades now. He said a lot of people are having trouble trying to grasp what it is all about.
“Many people do not appreciate the need for palliative care and previously when people have seen somebody with an incurable disease or chronic illiness they could just say go home, sleep and maybe pray about this. We don’t have any other thing.
“But palliative care speaks another language. It says there is always something that we can do. If we cannot treat somebody physically we can still alleviate their pain or even remove it,” said Huwa.
The conference centered on marrying climate change smart agriculture with nutrition and how the two can contribute to the wellbeing of palliative patients.
Mulanje Land resource conservation officer Chicco Kayange said food consumption is also part of treating palliative patients and as such patients must be food secure.
Kayange advocated for Climate-Smart agriculture as one way of making sure that nutritious food is readly available.
“Agriculture production has to orient itself to way the climate has changed. If we need to have food security then we need to produce in a manner which is sustainable and this is where we emphasize to be climate smart,” said Kayange.
The guest of honour at the conference was senior chief Chikumbu.