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A Home-visit Scheme has been a Breakthrough in Treating Chronic Illnesses and Spotting Cancers

In rural Malawi, where a hospital or clinic is usually far away, illnesses – even serious non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as cancer and diabetes or sickle cell anaemia – are often just something that people live with, or die from, with little medical intervention. In the afternoons, as people take a rest after doing their chores and working in the fields, Lydia Kabokondo starts knocking on doors. Her rounds take in people who have diseases that can easily go undiagnosed and untreated. Kabokondo describes herself as a bridge between the 20 households on her patch and health facilities far from their homes and villages. Making sure that patients were taking their medications was a key part of the HIV programme that helped Neno district, in the south-west of Malawi, achieve the highest rates of patient survival, and maintaining their care, in the country. Now the successful HIV outreach programme is being used as a model to improve treatment for the new major diseases on the block: diabetes, hypertension and cancer.