February 26

On World Cancer Day in February, future ZAHPCA members recruited colleagues while raising awareness in Choma about palliative care. Here, Dr. Mwate Joseph Chaila, left, and Fr. John Damascene Rurangwa, right, hold a banner at the event. Photo used with permission.

In 2023, IAHPC provided five Leadership Development (LEAD) grants in Albania, Burkina Faso, Colombia, India, and Zambia for two years: $1,000 USD in year 1 and up to $1,500 USD in year 2. Recipients’ progress reports were evaluated and adjusted at the end of year 1. Zambia Medical Association was one of the recipients.

Expanding the Realm of the Possible

By Alison Ramsey
IAHPC Newsletter Editor

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When the Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) was named as one of IAHPC’s LEAD grant recipients in 2022, the effect of the initial $1,000 blossomed in an unexpected way. Their success of their proposal—to re-establish a defunct national palliative care association—gave project director Dr. Mwate Joseph Chaila the confidence to apply for a much larger grant.

“That $1,000 gave us a lot of motivation to think big,” says Mwate. So when Dr. Crispin Moyo, Zambia Medical Association president at the time, discovered that the Lung Ambition Alliance had a call for grant proposals, he suggested to Mwate that they apply, despite the fact that Zambia’s rate of lung cancer is low and survivors are rare. They had just 48 hours to meet the submission deadline.

“We cut and pasted a lot of information from the LEAD program, and submitted it on time. A few months later, I received an email saying that we had a $25,000 grant. I didn’t believe it!”

This is exactly the kind of result that IAHPC hoped for when creating the Leadership Development (LEAD) grants.

Zambia’s LEAD grant

The first $1,000 for the Zambia Medical Association paid for a computer and development of the initial draft of Zambia Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance (ZAHPCA) constitution, in preparation to register it as a civil society organization with the government. That name was chosen because it is cited in the government’s National Palliative Care Strategic Plan as a necessary component to advance palliative care.

The name has not been officially approved; negotiations are ongoing. In the meantime, the fledgling group is officially known as the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Zambia (HOPAZ). HOPAZ has:

Its goal is to develop palliative care services and training in all 10 provinces, using the national palliative care strategic plan as its blueprint.

An “Aha!” moment

“It’s seed money to give them air and oxygen to advance their ideas,” says IAHPC Executive Director Liliana De Lima. “My biggest ‘Aha!’ moment was realizing that it’s an opportunity to train people in how to write project proposals.” Rather than touting what the grant allows organizations to do, “it’s what they learn that’s important.”

Mwate credits IAHPC Senior Director of Partnerships and Advocacy Katherine Pettus as being an invaluable aid to their successful grant application for both LEAD and the lung alliance. Her guidance helped them write the first application, which was instrumental in preparing the second.

While applying for the Lung Ambition Alliance grant, Mwate learned of a $100,000 grant that he considered impossibly out of reach. Now, he says, “I’m sorry we didn’t try for it!” At the next opportunity, he won’t hesitate.

Update: Since this interview was done, ZMA received $5,000 USD from EMMS International, an international healthcare charity based in Scotland, to offset costs of the ZAHPCA registration process.

The New Government Is Investing More in Health Care

In August 2021, a new government was elected in Zambia.

The former Minister of Health Dr. Kennedy Malama “gave us a task, to develop a strategic plan. We began with one component, cervical cancer, and through that started to develop the overall palliative care plan. When that draft was done, we got ministry funding to finalize the plan.” 

Happily, the new government not only kept the plan alive, it appointed Dr. Kennedy Lishimpi, a cancer and palliative care advocate, as Permanent Secretary for Technical Services within the Ministry of Health. His stated goal is to establish a National Cancer Institute, a site to anchor palliative care, among other roles, says Mwate.

The change appears promising for a nascent palliative care umbrella organization, particularly one that seeks to represent associations of a variety of health care professions. “We have seen a lot of investment in the health sector in the last two years; more than 15,000 new positions,” says Mwate. 


  1. Zambia National Palliative Care Strategic Plan 2021–2026 
  2. Zambia National Cancer Control Strategic Plan 2022–2026 


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