The Palliative Care Support Trust is one of the leading palliative care service providers in Malawi. It is situated within the teaching hospital of Malawi called the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. The support trust supports the efforts of Tiyanjane Palliative Care Clinic and Umodzi Children Palliative Care Clinic.
Myself, Dr Cornelius Huwa the Medical Director of the organization, and Mrs Deliwe Kacheche, the Finance and Administration Officer, last week undertook an educational tour of Uganda which was made possible by the financial support from EMMS International of Scotland.
The aim of the tour was to familiarize ourselves and our organization with the work of palliative care organizations in Uganda. Many palliative care organizations in Uganda have pioneered models and practices to deliver high quality palliative care and we hoped we could learn from them to improve palliative care delivery in Malawi.
Among the many things that we learnt, we saw that the active participation of all stakeholders and team work was at the centre of much of Uganda's success. A holistic approach to palliative care is only possible if everyone is on board.
The places that were visited during the tour included the African Palliative Care Association (APCA), Palliative Care Association of Uganda (PCAU), UGANET, Hospice Africa Uganda, Kawempe Home Care, Uganda Cancer Institute and Mildmay Uganda.
We were also honoured to have an opportunity to meet Dr Jacinto Amandua, the Commissioner for Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health in Uganda.
It was clear that having both government and private organisations on board was a key component to the success seen in Uganda.
The tour also taught us skills such as resource mobilization for palliative care, use of networking and lobbying skills, programme management, palliative care training and community programming among many other skills.
A particular highlight from the trip was to see the reconstitution of liquid morphine at Hospice Africa Uganda.
We also however learnt about the importance of soft skills especially when we went on a home visit. This cemented our learning on the importance of patient centeredness of care.
APCA staff also took time to empower us in resource mobilization techniques, financial resource management and effective usage of information technology for better communication. All skills that will be invaluable in developing palliative care further in Malawi.
This tour has offered great empowerment to the Palliative Care Support Trust. We will go back home to Malawi full of lessons learnt and above all with some rich networking opportunities that developed throughout the week long education tour with key palliative care champions in Uganda.
These lessons and the contacts made will be used to improve palliative in Malawi for years to come.
Thank you to Dr. Emmanuel Luyirika, the Executive Director of APCA, and the entire APCA team for making the visit possible and well-coordinated.