Nkhoma Mission Hospital located in Malawi recently shared several patient success stories with us! They partner with Hospice of the North Coast in California through GPIC. Here are the stories in the staff’s own words.
9-year-old boy: started coughing at 7 years old. It became so severe that his mother brought him to the hospital in Lilongwe. There he got scanned and doctors concluded he had heart failure. Because his mother did not have enough money for medication, she went back home. She thought it would be good to take the boy to Nkhoma Mission Hospital.
At first, Nkhoma provided social care. The mother, boy, and his brother moved to a newly built house to have more space. The relation between mother and sons became better as well. His mother feels that she is not alone, and through the home visits she feels being looked after. After a short while, the team noticed that only social care was not enough and started the child on monthly medication which has improved his condition.
With not enough money for the treatment in Lilongwe, it was hard for the mother as caregiver and breadwinner to have enough food to provide the three of them. “Before the palliative care came in, I did not know about nutrition nor gardening, something that is very valuable.” The palliative care team taught her about gardening and so the mother bought seeds to start her garden. “At first, if we did not have anything to eat we couldn’t eat. Now I can take food from the garden if I have no sufficient amount of money to buy food.”
The situation now is better than it was a year ago. With her own garden, a few pigs and some goats the mother struggles less. Spiritually she was helped by the chaplains. “God is the centre of all, I need to trust him more.”
At the home visit, the boy greets visitors in both English and Chichewa. He can write his name on the form – all of that for a boy who is in first grade!
54-year-old man: Has cancer of the esophagus. Happily married with two children. Retired from his position as a veterinary assistant because the condition was progressing. Was confirmed at a previous hospital and was referred to the nearest hospital for palliation in November 2019.
“Once I was at the tradition healer, they put something on my neck and was admitted for a week, while receiving traditional medicine there. The health workers at KCH were rude to me, so they thought I would not survive. Until they called me one day just to confirm if I was still alive or death [sic]. I was really depressed as I didn’t expect that from the health personal. Then I was referred to Nkhoma for palliation.”
Coming to the facility he realized he spent a lot of money on nothing. With the short education he was given about his condition he is now able to manage it with the guidance of health personal at Nkhoma Hospital.
“You have shown me love, warmth, which I could not find in my previous center of seeking support. I felt welcomed and I now have control as I know what my condition is, how it will go about. I’m grateful for the counseling and encouragement, you always render to me and my family. We are not the same, a lot has really changed for the better.”
11-year-old girl: Has arthritis and was severely malnourished. She was referred to the unit when she was 6 years old for palliation.
“We have been from one traditional healer to another, thinking my child has been bewitched. When we came to the hospital I realized it was a chronic illness. I was relieved to realize it was a normal illness. Palliative care helped me realize and understand the condition of my child’s pain.
“We are just grateful for the effort that you strive for us to be assisted holistically. This is the only clinic that our ideas, thoughts, complaints are heard and put to action. This place is really different from all other health centres culturally and holistically.”
54-year-old woman: Has cancer of the cervix which started with abdominal pains since 2019.
“[Palliative Care] helped a lot I can now differentiate between how I was and now, I was in pain and spending sleepless nights while groaning but am no longer in pain and am able to sleep.
“I have gone from one clinic/traditional healer to another to another but to no avail, but with one mention of palliative clinic my condition has changed and am no longer in pain now with the pain medication this hospital is giving me. I have never been betrayed in any way each visit is a new day of celebrating the warmth welcome I receive. I am grateful its different with other hospitals, they are our part of family.”
4-year-old girl: Has sickle cell anemia which started in 2018 June and was also confirmed then. Before she had gone to KCH where diagnosis was also confirmed. Upon coming back to Nkhoma she was then discharged through palliative care for palliation.
“Your assistance holistically is really very helpful, usually we do not resume to our normal duties as before when we have such illnesses at home for we are busy caring for that child. Thus, the holistic approach is really a success to us as if feels like we know all our problems. Alone we were helpless and not knowing which route to use for the wellbeing of the child but with your education we are too grateful
“With the gardens that you teach us to have at our homes, maybe supplying us with first-hand inputs would be a great success especially for the other hybrid vegetables, and also socially especially this hunger season the hunger is nationwide and with these politics issue the flow of cash is really slow and for business women like us we are really struggling to provide for our families but with the little you used to give us it acted like a backup in our households.
“When you have the resources available, you do not seize to help us in our critical spheres, ours is gratitude and may the core facilitators for the program advocate for sustainability as many are being helped from it.”
1-year, 9-month-old girl: Has Atrial Septal Defect and Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, which was confirmed at another hospital. They were then referred to Nkhoma for palliation of the chronic condition.
“Am able to differentiate and I am now relieved, I can compare from how she was and now, she used to have shortness of breath, could not crawl, play or the type of breathing. It improved now after the medicine I was given from this room from how it was before palliation.
“If you could consistently help us all in all our endeavors would be satisfying, but you tell us to give medicine to our children with this hunger season sometimes we skip the medicine as the child cannot take on empty stomach as it may weaken her. But all in all you are doing a great job. Free medicine, free guidance holistically that is all we need for a start.
“I see a huge change in my child. But when you tell us this is only for a short period of time it pains us as we are greatly being assisted by the support you give us. I alone I could afford to get medication for my child before and with fluctuation of our kwacha and the little businesses we do I don’t think I would also manage in future as the medicine is expensive.”
52-year-old woman: Has two children, they are both married. Diagnosed with cancer of the cervix; Nkhoma confirmed the condition. Had abdominal pains having visited another hospital again in 2018 and still had the same story. In June 2019 after being in so much pain, went to Nkhoma after admission was discharged through palliative clinic for palliation.
“[Palliative Care has been a] Life saver- I am speechless, I only have extreme pains when am not taking my medications but with my financial constraints am happy am getting free medication. All my relatives including my mother are alive but there is extreme poverty at our household level where if not for this program I would have been dead by now. Holistically I depend on what you are offering me and put to much use of all your short educations.
“I could not understand what these abdominal endless pains meant, the flow of blood but with your guidance you have made me understand my diagnosis its end result and that is all I need. Sometimes it’s just information and clear understanding we lack but I have it all.
“Gratitude to all. Encouragement that you also do to others who are suffering, pain can make you act childish, groaning in front of people. Thanks to heavens for opening such gates of peace.”