The term “Palliative care” is derived from the Latin palliare, [to cloak] and refers to an approach to medical care which is focused on reducing the severity of distressing symptoms rather than striving to cure, halt or reverse the progression of a disease.
WHO Defines palliative care for children as a special, albeit closely related field to adult palliative care which includes the active, total care of the child’s body, mind and spirit, and also involves giving support to the family. It begins when illness is diagnosed, and continues regardless of whether or not a child receives treatment directed at the disease.
It is not dependent on prognosis and is offered alongside curative and all other appropriate forms of treatment. Palliative care addresses total pain, which includes pain of the body, mind and spirit.
The goal of palliative care is to prevent and relieve suffering of any kind and to improve quality of life for people faced with serious and complex medical conditions.
Since 2010, PACAM has been implementing a children’s palliative care scale up project which is funded by DFID through Help the Hospice UK. The project is being piloted in the three central hospitals namely; Mzuzu central hospital in the northern region, Kamuzu central hospital in the central region and Zomba central hospital in the southern region. The project has local and international mentors. Locally Umodzi children palliative care centre housed under Queen Elizabeth central hospital in Blantyre is the mentor of the project and internationally, Joan Marson provides mentorship support.