Malawi faces shortage of palliative caregivers

By Salome Chitakunye

Shortage of child palliative caregivers in the country’s public hospitals is affecting palliative care delivery, a health official has said.

Director of Medicine for Umodzi Child Palliative Care at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QUECH), Dr Cornelius Huwa said the challenge is impacting on the provision of palliative care services to children with prolonged illnesses.

“At the moment we see over 30-50 new patients per month in children palliative care only and if we look at our hospitals there a few palliative care givers which hinders us from reaching the level we want,” he said.

However Dr Huwa expressed satisfaction with the strides they are registering in assisting children with prolonged illnesses in the country.

He said since the establishment of child palliative care services at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in 2001 they have been reaching out more than 500 children annually.

“The child palliative care department offers its services to children with cancer related cases, Epilepsy, asthma and brain problems. We also see children that have social problems,”Dr Huwa said.

He said they managed to train all central hospitals in the country on how to offer child palliative care services.

Dr Huwa also said currently palliative care clinics are found in almost every district hospitals.

Executive Director of Malawi Health Equity Network, George Jobe said child palliative care is very important since it is not easy to ascertain what a child is suffering from.

“For adults they can groan or cry to show that they are in pain but while children can cry it might be hard for them to explain what is wrong,” he said.

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