Palliative care and support is crucial in reducing dependency among those suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer according to District Health Officer (DHO) for Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, Dr Medson Matchaya.
He was speaking in Ndirande, a high density township in the city, on Friday during a cancer advocacy organised by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in collaboration with the Palliative Care Support Trust .
Matchaya said palliative care has made medical care simple as patients with the help of loving and caring guardians are able to manage their conditions, take medicine properly, reduce pain and remain productive.
“In the past when one suffered from diseases such as cancer or Aids, it was like they have signed a death warrant. While some died due to poor medical services then, some lacked love, care and proper guidance.
But now with the coming in of Palliative Care Support Clinics, patients are adhering to their medical treatment, able to do daily duties and live long.” said Matchaya.
During the event, cancer patients and guardians from Tiyanjane Palliative Care shared their experiences through photographs and stories and demonstrated how they relate with each other to help minimise some of the challenges they face.
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is working with patients and guardians from Tiyanjane located at the referral Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, in a project called photographic research.
Research lead Dr Jane Bates said a lot of lessons are being learnt from stories that patients and guardians share regarding their fears, challenges and experiences.
Said Bates: “The four month-long research programme which started last month will help enlighten stakeholders involved on how they can improve the welfare of cancer patients in terms of medical service delivery. We can learn a lot about their daily experiences through these photographs and make sure the care and support they need is available.”
Medical Director for Palliative care Support Trust Dr Cornelius Huwa urged the general public to go for screening whenever they suspect cancer on any part of their body for early diagnosis and treatment.
Huwa said once diagnosed early, cancer is curable.