Strengthening palliative care services for the children of Malawi

Categories: Education.

Malawi is one of the African countries which are moving fast in the developing and strengthening of palliative care services for children. Last year, through the help of ICPCN, the Palliative Care Association of Malawi (PACAM) received a grant from the Open Society Institute of Southern Africa to upscale palliative care services for children. 

Training
The grant enabled Malawi to train 20 health professionals in children’s palliative care from its district hospitals. Previously palliative care services were only available in tertiary hospitals which made accessibility difficult. It was also difficult to make follow up of those children who had been discharged home by the tertiary hospitals after they been stabilised. Training was conducted by ICPCN, PACAM and the Malawi Ministry of Health.

After the training, nine districts of the Central Region of Malawi have nurses and clinical officers who have started palliative care services for children. With financial aid from the True Colours Trust, a donor from the UK, each hospital has refurbished a room that is specifically dedicated to children’s palliative care.  

Hospitals which did not have rooms to spare used the funds to buy large multipurpose containers which they will convert into clinics. A home service has been started by one of the district hospitals situated in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. The Ministry of Health has appointed co-ordinators in each hospital to ensure the smooth running of services.

Impact report
Prior to the placement of trained nurses and clinicians in district hospitals, a baseline assessment of the services was done and it will be interesting to see its impact at the end of the year. The Ministry of Health is intending to integrate palliative care, including that of children, into the main health system of care in the country. 

ICPCN, PACAM and the government of Malawi are grateful to OSISA for awarding the grant which made this project possible.