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Malawian palliative care nurse joins Scottish Hospital Team

Author: Gary Brough, EMMS International
21 December 2017

Nurse Mwandia Nkhoma has spent two days early this month with the NHS Fife palliative care team. She is a palliative care nurse from Malawi and is supported by Edinburgh-based charity EMMS International.

EMMS International is an Edinburgh-based international healthcare charity. It was founded in 1841 as the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society. The charity works to provide access to quality, dignified healthcare for the poorest and most vulnerable people in Malawi, Nepal, India and Scotland. In 2016-17, EMMS International’s projects helped 210,922 poor and vulnerable people.

During the visit she has seen first-hand how palliative care is supported and delivered in hospice, community, day hospice and acute hospital settings. She has spent time with nurses, doctors and several other members of the multidisciplinary team, including chaplaincy, dietetics, pharmacy and occupational therapy.

Her visit has provided an opportunity for an exchange of skills and ideas from both sides and reflects the partnership that Scotland and Malawi have shared since Dr David Livingstone.

Dr Joanna Bowden, who is hosting her time with the team says: “It has been our great pleasure to spend time with Mwandida and to start the conversation about how we can forge a meaningful partnership between our clinical services.

“We have more common ground that either of us anticipated and we believe that our teams can learn a great deal from each other. Improving access to and quality of palliative care is a global priority and we look forward to supporting each other in this shared endeavour.”

Nurse Mwandida Nkhoma is visiting Scotland to promote EMMS International’s 'Every Life Matters' campaign to improve healthcare in Malawi. The campaign has the backing of the UK government which will match donations from the public, pound for pound.

In Malawi, cancer diagnoses have more than doubled in the last decade. By 2021, an estimated 180,000 patients and their families will need palliative care. Across Africa, cancer cases are increasing rapidly, placing a further burden on already stretched health services.

EMMS International’s campaign will raise money to train more healthcare workers, improve access to healthcare for 10,000 patients and support 50,000 family members to grow their own food.

James Wells, Chief Executive, EMMS International, said: “EMMS International is committed to training more specialist healthcare workers in Malawi to end hidden suffering. Mwandida’s visit to Scotland is an opportunity to share how important that work is.”

Mwandida said: “I am very grateful for this opportunity to visit Fife. Thanks to the UK government for matching the donations which EMMS International will raise.

“Access to quality palliative care in Malawi is a major problem due to a lack of resources, including specialised practitioners and pain medication.

“Palliative care at Fife is more comprehensive than Malawi because their team comprise of different specialities which is a big difference to Malawi.

“They have a wide range of medications available, making them very flexible in their prescription. However, principles of palliative care delivery are the same, what differs is the way we deliver it in developed and developing countries.”

Find out more about the work of EMMS International in palliative care online. 

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