Palliative Care Association of Malawi has called for more civil society players to join efforts to promote palliative care; a move the body says can help save more lives in the country.
The association made the call on Monday in Lilongwe during a press briefing ahead of this year’s national commemorations of the world Hospice and Palliative Care slated for this Friday at Katoto Secondary School grounds in Mzuzu.
This comes against reports of increased lack of knowledge by the general public about the availability of palliative care services, among others.
Speaking on behalf of the association’s executive director, Lilongwe District Support Project Director Fred Chiputula said the sector, despite making several strides over the years; continues to face various challenges –both at policy and implementation levels.
He also called for increased advocacy to help reduce the existing knowledge and skills gap for the sector to better identify and manage the other aspects of pain; arguing the majority of health professionals in most public institutions are not trained in the concept of palliative care.
“Our findings also show that there is increasingly some lack of commitment by trained palliative care service providers to providers palliative care services even after being trained as service providers.
Meanwhile, in a bid to smoothen prescription challenges facing the sector in the country, government will review the prescribing practices in the health sector for Morphine; a drug said to be key for pain relief in most chronic illnesses.
According to Palliative Care Desk Officer in the Ministry of Health, Immaculate Kambiya, only doctors and dental surgeons are allowed to prescribe the drug.
“The thing is Morphine is widely categorized as a dangerous drug despite its medicinal value; hence the restrictions. Of course in Malawi, it’s now under our list of controlled drugs. But when we critically look on who actually provide palliative care on the ground, you will find that rarely do doctors fall in this category. A review on the same will surely do.” Kambiya said.
Internet sources define Palliative Care as a multidisciplinary approach to specialised medical care for people with serious illnesses. The discipline focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress and mental stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis, with an aim of improving quality of life for both the patient and the family.
The World Hospice and Palliative Care day was therefore set aside to help raise awareness about the need to access pain relief medications and interventions.