Palliative Care Association of Malawi (Pacam) executive director Lameck Thambo has urged government to increase budgetary allocations to palliative care services to ensure there are enough professionals to meet the demand for services.
Speaking on Saturday at Luangwa Primary School Ground, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mponda in Mangochi during the commemoration of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, he said the shortage of palliative care providers in the country’s rural health facilities is affecting palliative care delivery.
The day was held under the theme Palliative Care Because I Matter.
Thambo said: “Nationally, there are few trained palliative care professionals, about 1 500. There is limited access to palliative care services, especially in the rural areas despite the growing demand by people who are chronically or terminally ill.”
He said palliative care services are needed the most in rural areas where about 85 percent of the country’s population lives; hence, the deficiency is thwarting the organisation’s vision to see all people with life-threatening illnesses free from pain and distress.
In his remarks, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Dan Namarika urged communities to take care of their sick relations, saying palliative care needs a holistic approach.
He said: “We should not condemn our relatives because they are terminally ill. Please let’s do our part as relatives.”
To this effect, he pledged government’s commitment to train more health workers, including palliative care experts and bring ambulances to the rural areas to help patients access the services.