At EMMS International, 33,000 people have been helped by our Chifundo Project in Malawi. We’re not simply celebrating the many, but each individual – because every life matters.
Back in 2017, our ‘Every Life Matters’ appeal to improve access to pain relief and palliative care in rural Malawi raised £1.73 million. This included £846,248 of match funding from the UK government. As a result, the Chifundo project (meaning ‘compassion’) was launched. Here are 4 ways that UK aid and public donations are helping EMMS International and its partners show that every life matters:
1. Leaving no-one behind
Care mustn’t stop when there isn’t a cure. The Chifundo project targets people with life-limiting illnesses in rural communities where access to healthcare is most difficult. 94% of people being helped so far are living in rural communities, where hospitals were previously unable to offer these services because of a lack of training and resources.
The project also targets some of the most vulnerable in society. Malawi, along with many nations, has much to celebrate in the fight against HIV. Yet still, 10.6% of the population, approximately 900,000 people, are living with HIV/AIDS. Their lives are longer and of greater quality, but still they are vulnerable to health conditions that make palliative care an essential service. 50% of people receiving help from this project are living with HIV/AIDS.
2. Transforming lives of patients, families and communities
Hunger is an enemy to health, people with life-limiting illnesses need stable diets to benefit from pain relief and other medication. However, hunger isn’t easily addressed by individual handouts. Patients are also parents or grandparents – how can they eat while their families go hungry?
Under the Chifundo project, patients and their families receive help to start gardens. Yes, patients get the nutrition they require but their families and communities benefit too through the sharing of skills and produce. The project has already helped 6,618 people in extreme poverty in Malawi to access pain relief, quality care and food support. A further 26,472 family members have also benefitted from these essential services too alongside targeted services like spiritual and legal support.
3. Building long-term change
The Chifundo project is our second UK government-funded project. It follows the previous project of capacity building in local partner hospitals. These hospitals now mentor other facilities and staff. A Palliative Care degree programme in Malawi’s College of Medicine established on the earlier project is now equipping a new generation of specialists.
Challenges our partners face will take more than 3-year initiatives to conquer. However, long-term funding from EMMS supporters and partnership with UK government is helping build lasting change.
4. Tackling Gender Inequality
Women and girls overwhelmingly bear the brunt of gaps in health services. The Chifundo project models home-based care because it is appropriate to the needs of patients and families. With quality care the burden on families is reduced, allowing women to continue with work and girls to remain in education. Families have the chance to break the cycle of sickness and poverty.
Edward’s story – compassion in action
Four years ago, Edward broke his neck in a devastating car accident which left him paralysed from the chest down. After a long struggle, his family found help from EMMS International’s partner, David Gordon Memorial Hospital’s palliative care team. They tended to his bedsores, pain, depression and nutrition. Occupational therapists and physiotherapists supported him too.
This means his mother can return to work. Essential healthcare is a lifeline not only to patients, but also to their families battling the effects of sickness and poverty.
COVID-19 Every Life Matters
As an experienced international healthcare charity, EMMS International is well placed to work with our health partners on the front line in Malawi, Nepal and Bihar, India. Follow the link to find out what we’re doing to help vulnerable communities as coronavirus strikes.
For COVID updates:
Written by Mary Robertson, Director of Fundraising, EMMS International