top of page

Non-Communicable Diseases

Palliative Care

In Nepal, only 1.7% of families needing palliative care have access to it.

In rural parts of resource-poor countries, where healthcare is inaccessible, cancer diagnoses are often made late, when the cancer is well advanced, or not at all, making each case devastating. The cost of travelling for tests and often futile treatment can add up to a crippling debt for families. EMMS International has established itself as an expert in palliative care. It has seen specialist services developed, improved access to essential medicines, established degree-level training programmes and worked with governments to ensure palliative care is a recognised healthcare priority.


The quality and effectiveness of this work has been recognised by the UK government, who are currently funding their third partnership with EMMS International to improve palliative care.


This is a priority across EMMS International’s work and we’re currently:

  • Extending palliative care services in rural Nepal to bring quality care closer to home. This eases the burden of care which can all too often force girls out of school.

  • Continuing to integrate palliative care into Malawi’s healthcare services through training and mentoring.

  • Providing respite breaks for people in Edinburgh with life-limiting illnesses in a newly redeveloped holidayhome - helping them make lasting memories with their loved ones.


Your support means care doesn’t stop when there isn’t a cure.

What is Palliative Care?


Suntali's Life Matters

Suntali was a homeless widow with two small children when she became a patient at Green Pastures Hospital, Nepal. Whilst being treated for leprosy, she was diagnosed with malignant skin cancer. In addition to the excruciating pain, the emotional pain of being homeless and fearing for the safety of her children left Suntali hopeless. She believed that her life did not matter.

Thankfully, hope came to Suntali in the form of the amazing person-centred care. Suntali now has hope for the future. Her children are happy in a nearby Christian Children's home and are receiving an education. Suntali is in remission. Although she still manages significant symptoms, Suntali has now started training to be a tailor in order to provide for her family in the future.

However, there are thousands of people like Suntali currently living in rural Nepal with no such care available to them. It is hard to imagine being so vulnerable and desperate.

Building Palliative Care Services in Rural Nepal

The completion of the Centre of Excellence is a wonderful opportunity to expand rural palliative care in western Nepal. Having quality care at or close to home stops families having to choose between healthcare for their loved ones and education for the next generation. In November 2020, we launched the Every Girl Matters appeal to support the expansion of rural care and help young girl carers return to school and enjoy the benefits of an education. Donations to the appeal were doubled by the UK government and the project was launched in April 2022.

Developing Palliative Care Services in Malawi 

Over a period of 10 years, EMMS built up palliative care services in Malawi until the country achieved an amazing score equal to that of the UK in the Global Atlas of Palliative Care. From small beginnings in Malawi, we developed a programme of activities that we can vary for any country, including supporting a national association, pre-service training of healthcare staff, in-service training in select facilities, Masters degrees and a PhD to provide university teachers and Malawi-focussed research, advocacy for drugs, audits of health facilities against African Palliative Care standards, and much more, all the while improving care for tens of thousands of families. 


Building Palliative Care Services in Zambia and Rwanda 

A national association is vital for advocacy, professionalism and change in the palliative care sector. It is the foundation stone for all the scaling up and professionalisation of palliative care that we have done in India, Malawi and Nepal. We are very excited to be starting out on the same journey in Zambia and Rwanda, adding them to our expanding programme of palliative care, now in 5 countries. 



EMMS began work in Zambia in 2017, when we started to support a senior palliative care nurse to gain her MSc in Palliative Care. Since then we have written joint published papers with this nurse. Now EMMS is supporting the development of a national association for palliative care in Zambia, hosted by the Zambian Medical Association. 



In Rwanda, EMMS is supporting the nascent national palliative care association, PCAR (Palliative Care Association of Rwanda) in two ways. We are developing its policies and procedures, strengthening its ability to expand. And we are helping it to support palliative care patients with costs of transport to treatment in specialist hospitals. Both are vital to PCAR and its work. 


Dementia Care

The cost-of-living crisis is seriously affecting families in the UK, where dementia is causing isolation and loneliness.

EMMS International is supporting projects that provide free food, care and therapeutic activities to dementia patients and their families within their communities in Scotland. This is a natural follow-on from our previous programme in Scotland, which continues to provide respite care for families with life-limiting illness in Hawthorn Brae House in Perthshire. 


Albert, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia at the age of 78, attends a weekly community lunch near his home in Edinburgh:

“I was isolated at home on my own and this didn’t help with worrying and overthinking. I was worried about my future and how I would cope. I felt that I had nowhere to turn. I am now connected within my community and have made lots of new friends. I can stay at home for longer. I’m happy and enjoying life again. My outlook has changed so much since my diagnosis, all because of the Day Service that I attend.”

EMMS International also works with its palliative care partners Nepal, Malawi, India, Rwanda and Zambia, who support patients who face the dual challenges of dementia and other life-limiting illnesses. 


In Pokhara, Nepal, Hartaj is being treated for stomach cancer. The effects of dementia also meant he faced confusion, anxiety, and fear, causing him to feel increasingly isolated and lonely. Our partner's Palliative Care Team visited Hartaj at his home, organising virtual meetings with relatives far away and playing his favourite music, bringing him moments of pleasure. When his worsening dementia made it difficult for Hartaj to manage living alone at home, the team supported him in transferring to a care home, ensuring his safety and well-being.

bottom of page