Improving Access to Home Based Palliative Care for Patients in Malawi

In 2018, the palliative Care Association of Malawi (PACAM) procured 100 bicycles and distributed to 7 Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in 4 districts in central and Northern region of Malawi where the STEP UP project is implementing palliative care program. The project is funded by True Colours Trust (TCT) in UK.

Harry and Ida delivering Bicycles to CBOs
Harry and Ida delivering Bicycles to CBOs

 

Fred (in red shirt) handing over
Fred (in red shirt) handing over


This was in response to Jo Ecclestone and Maggie Baxter, representatives of TCT visits to Malawi in 2017 whereby the community home based care volunteers they visited complained that they had transport problems to visit palliative care patients in the community. The True Colours Trust provided PACAM with £18,750 to procure 300 bicycles to be distributed to 28 CBOs in the Country. Upon receiving the bicycles, community volunteers appreciated TCT and PACAM for the generosity and consideration. They assured PACAM that this will help them to visit many palliative care patients and increase the frequency of visits to patients. Volunteers do recommendable palliative care work for patients because through their home visits volunteers provide basic nursing care, Psychosocial and spiritual support and do some domestic work. In addition community volunteers identify palliative care patients and refer them for care. This reassures patients and reduce expenses for patients’ visits to hospitals.


The CBO members dancing and excited upon receiving the bicycles.

IMPACT OF THE BICYCLE

In February 2019 PACAM did a follow up visit to one CBO named Gawamadzi in Dowa central region to see the impact of the bicycles. This was done on 21st February 2019. The team comprised of Lameck Thambo, Glenda Winga from PACAM and Bonwell Chimzimu the palliative care coordinator from Dowa hospital. The team visited Gawamadzi CBO at their office located about 10 KM from Dowa hospital. The hospital coordinator, Bonwell reported that the CBO is active and registered with Social welfare office. There are 10 active members who visited patients and provide regular reports to the hospital. CBO members sometimes escort poor patients who could not afford transport to the hospital using the bicycles.


PACAM staff and members of Gawamadzi CBO at their office.


Impact after received bicycles. The CBO received 10 bicycles 1 per person. CBO members reported that with the coming of bicycle they have extended the catchment area to more than 15Km radius covering 13 village from 7 villages. They are able to reach some village they didn’t visit before. This was witnessed by the Dowa hospital palliative care coordinator who reported that he received many patients referred from 15Km away village by the volunteers. Bicycles help them to reduce distance and carry patients to the hospital. The CBO requested PACAM to support them with one push Ambulance bicycle to use for carrying patients who cannot sit on a bicycle such as stroke and bedridden patients. The Palliative Care Association is very grateful to True Colours Trust for Financial support.

By:
Lameck Thambo,
Executive Director,
Palliative care Association of Malawi.
Contact: 265 888 868 087:
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