Malawi has over 176, 000 people living with palliative care conditions

Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health and Population, Dr. Charles Mwansambo, has disclosed that the country has over 176, 000 certified patients for palliative care services.

Yet, the health system only provides the service to 54,550.

Dr Charles Mwansambo

Mwansambo made the revelation during a panel discussion organized as part of the activities to commemorate World Hospice and Palliative Care Month in Lilongwe.

The commemoration is held under the theme: “Leave no-one behind-equity in access to palliative care.”

The PS said the figures expose slow progress the country is making towards enhancing the provision and uptake of palliative care services.

“Most people living with palliative care conditions and their families do not access the care and services,” he said.

According to him, only 31 per cent accessed palliative care services in the past year.

He attributed the low numbers to Covid-19 and limited budget to the services, which has negatively impacted on the capacity building, monitoring, supervision and overall delivery of the palliative care services.

Palliative Care Association of Malawi (PACAM) Executive Director, Lameck Thambo, said despite the government’s achievements in the field of palliative care services, there is still more that needs to be done, including increasing budget allocation to the sector.

Nationally, he said, there are few trained palliative care professionals, lack of infrastructure and an intermittent availability of some essential palliative care medicine especially morphine as well as lack of management support at operational level in hospitals.

However, palliative care is the care that enhances the quality of life of patients and families as they experience the challenges of serious illness by preventing and reducing pains and suffering through early identification of the disease, accurately assessing, managing and addressing physical, psychological, social and spiritual issues.

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