By N. Dennis Mwafulirwa, Acting Executive Director
Yathu Hospice Malawi
The Constitution of Malawi guarantees “the inviolability of the dignity of all persons.” This, in its essence, provides all Malawians with an inherent right to die with dignity, have access to physical, psychological, mental, bereavement, and spiritual care, and be granted the respect consistent with other phases of life. It is in this spirit that Yathu Hospice was founded in 2012 to complement the government’s efforts to provide hospice and palliative care and support.
Yathu Hospice, a subsidiary of Yathu Foundation Malawi, is a community-based organization in Lilongwe (Malawi). We aim to provide hospice and palliative care services to individuals in mainly rural areas who are facing the end of life, those with a life-limiting illness, and their loved ones, who are experiencing grief and loss. “Yathu” is a Bantu word from the Chewa tribe meaning “Ours.” At Yathu, we believe in empowering communities, enhancing their ability to resolve their challenges, and offering support as necessary.
With about 45 volunteers, Yathu Hospice currently serves a population of about 300 people. Resources have been a significant challenge as we strive to do more. While we do reach many people in need of hospice and palliative care services and support, we hope to expand our services to a catchment area of 10,000 people by 2025.
“A world that understands and embraces palliative and hospice care, where individuals experience their end of life with dignity and support” is our vision and our mission. We strive to improve the quality of life of the communities we serve through the provision of psychosocial and spiritual support to all people with a progressive, life-limiting illness, those at end of life, and their loved ones.
We believe, share, and commit to the following values: accountability, achievement, dignity, compassion, volunteerism, integration, and partnership.
Yathu Hospice has outlined several programs and services in our 2019-2022 strategic plan, featuring our flagship program, our community hospice program that offers home-care hospice services, care coordination, family and caregiver support, psychosocial care and support, grief and bereavement, education, and advocacy. Services are provided at no charge and without cultural, gender, or religious discrimination.
This year, we are particularly excited because we have just secured land where we hope to soon begin developing the first residential hospice center in Malawi that will offer an essential choice to individuals for whom dying at home is not an option. It will also alleviate the pressures on acute-care resources. A residential hospice is a desired alternative when a home is not possible.
Yathu Hospice relies on funding from well-wishers within Malawi and abroad: however, raising resources for services and programs have been a challenge. Our target is $150,000 USD to fund both construction and necessary equipment.
We hope to strengthen our relationship with the government of Malawi and other stakeholders to enhance and scale up our service delivery.
At Yathu Hospice we believe that networking and partnership is fundamental to growth and impact. We are pleased to be part of IAHPC, a partner to help us network and build partnerships with others who believe in hospice and palliative care as a worthy calling. We appreciate IAHPC’s strong global platform for advocacy and promotion of evidence-based service delivery, and we look forward to continue strengthen our relationship to better our communities and the world.