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Monday, 5th June 2023
How Malawi celebrated World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

In Malawi, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Palliative Care Association of Malawi (PACAM) joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Hospice and Palliative Care Day (WHPCD), under the Theme: ‘’Universal Health Coverage And Palliative Care - don’t leave those suffering behind.’’

The commemoration was held on 17th November 2017 at  Nsalula Community Day Secondary Sschool in Salima District of the central region of Malawi.  It was presided over by the deputy chairperson of Salima district council Mrs B. Mbewe.

The event was supported with funding from National AIDS Commission, True Colours Trust,  Lighthouse Trust and K2 Taso Palliative Care.

World hospice and palliative care day is a unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world. The aim of this event is;

  • To share our vision to increase the availability of hospice and palliative care throughout the world by creating opportunities to speak out about the issues.
  • To raise awareness and understanding of the needs – medical, social, practical, spiritual – of people living with a life limiting illness and their families.
  • To raise funds to support and develop hospice and palliative care services around the world.

This year’s theme dwelt much on three main objectives;

  1. Equity for access to palliative care services,
  2. Quality of health services and
  3. Protection of people from financial risks related to access to health services.


Over 250 people attended, among whom were our valued palliative care patients, the district commissioner for Salima, members of Salima district council, all traditional authorities in Salima, local chiefs, councilors, education managers from Ministry of Education; zonal officers, district palliative care coordinators, district he alth management team members, palliative care partners such as College of Medicine, Lighthouse, Partners in Health, Catholic Health Commission, CHAM, Ministry of Health central level,  Ministry of Health Directors from Nursing and Administration Directorates, PACAM board and staff members, as well as media representatives.


A press briefing was held with the media prior to the event, together with a press release through the local newspapers.  Further publicity was carried out by the Health Promotion Band from Salima District Health Office prior to the event.

Malawi is one of the six countries in Africa that has achieved all the necessary steps of the WHO public health model in integration of palliative care services into public health systems. Other countries that have integrated palliative care into public health systems include Kenya, Zambia, Namibia, Rwanda and Swaziland

The organizing committee chose Salima district for the event to allow participants to appreciate and learn from the palliative care services offered at Ndimoyo Centre of Excellency. Ndimoyo means giving life.


A tour of Ndimoyo Palliative Care Centres of Excellence highlighted the impact that palliative care has on the life of the patient and family.  Next was a tour of the exhibitions mounted at the commemoration ground pavilions, and exhibitors included MOH (Nursing Directorate), Ndimoyo Palliative Care, and Palliative Care Association of Malawi

Several other activities including testimonies by palliative care clients from Ndimoyo (2 patients and 1family member) followed the welcome remarks and opening prayer from Pastor Chirwa, of Partners in Hope.


The Director of Nursing, Mrs.Tulipoka Soko, acknowledged PACAM for the continuous support to the MoH and also paid tribute to some palliative care pioneers in Malawi. She also pointed out how this year’s theme links well with the MoH sector strategic plan 11 of 2017 to 2 022 “Towards universal health coverage”  The director explained MoH commitment on palliative care that it appointed and assigned a palliative care desk in the MoH. She mentioned the development of national palliative care policy and guidelines. However, she was also concerned that Palliative care is not yet in the health centers and pointed this as a big gap that needs a quick intervention.

The guest of honour, Mrs. Beatrice Mbewe, said that the key message for the day was to strengthen public private partnerships in extending palliative care coverage in order not to leave those suffering behind.

Currently   85 sites are providing palliative care services at all levels of care and Ministry of Health through the Directorate of Nursing and Midwifery services providing national leadership.

 Availability of palliative care services is a worldwide problem. According to statistics from the World Health Organization; globally; 40-61 million people are in need of palliative care yet only 14% of this need is being met.

 Likewise based on the WHO estimates of 1% of the total population being in need of palliative care, 174,000 people are in need of palliative care in Malawi, (Malawi Health Sector Strategic Plan 2017-2022).

Strides have been made in integrating palliative care into public health systems. Currently 32% of all people who need palliative care in Malawi are able to access the services, an increase of 228% from global statistics.  Out of all people who accessed palliative care adults account for 74% and children 26% 

Other speeches were delivered by the PACAM executive director Mr. Lameck Thambo, the PACAM Board Chair, Dr. Agnes Mosses, who shared case study of a patient with advanced cancer who was coping positively, being pain and symptom free and able to do some work due to access to quality palliative care.


The management and staff of PACAM would like to acknowledge generous support by True Colours Trust, Lighthouse Trust and K2 Taso, as well as to thank all participated.