Household Concepts of Wellbeing and the Contribution of Palliative Care in the Context of Advanced Cancer: A Photovoice Study from Blantyre, Malawi

The aim of this Photovoice project was to explore patient and family perspectives of wellbeing and the contribution of palliative care following a diagnosis of advanced cancer in Blantyre, Malawi. Cancer and other life-limiting non-communicable diseases are on the increase in Africa affecting younger populations frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage of disease. Palliative care is an approach which aims to improve the quality of life for patients and families affected by life-limiting disease, though access to palliative care has been described as an issue which is largely ignored on the global health agenda.

Between November 2016 and February 2017, 13 co-researchers from 8 households gathered photographs to depict aspects of their daily lives. In this Photovoice project patients and their un-paid family caregivers described wellbeing as seeing improvements in the patients’ function facilitating inclusion in activities of daily living. Family caregivers, neighbours and community members play a key role as ‘courage givers’ supported by health workers and religious groups, though discrimination in the form of social exclusion was also reported.

Submitted by:
Maya Jane Bates

Palliative care – beating pain

I am wearing shorts to show the leg which hurts me. It is Tiyanjane (name of palliative care clinic) which gave me medication that stopped the pain

Photographer: GM patient aged 63

Palliative care - back to work

I received care from the hospital and from my carer and took proper cancer disease medication. I started working like before.

Photographer: JM patient aged 43

Courage givers

It’s the family caregiver’s duty to give proper care and medication to the patient

Photographer: EM carer, aged 33

The impact of the diagnosis on the family

The guardian (family caregiver) is disappointed because the results from the hospital are saying it is cancer disease

Photographer: JM, patient aged 43

Overcoming Discrimination

My wife left me when I first got sick with cancer, but my child is very happy now

Photographer: PT patient aged 32