Kachere Rehabilitation Centre opened its doors to the general public in 1995. This was in response to the great need that arose in the course of realizing that some of the many clients who were being seen by the outreach teams countrywide were too severely affected to benefit from the “once a month” outreach arrangement. They needed a place of referral where they could receive intensive therapy before being handed back to the community outreach services with a good level of functional skills and abilities. The capacity of 40 beds was therefore seen to be enough as this plan was only at (NGO) organization level. However, when it opened up its doors, it was realized that this would become the only rehabilitation centre in the country, hence attracting referrals from all over the country. Even government recognized this as an essential facility in the country and started supporting it.
Kachere rehabilitation centre still holds the status of being the only centre offering free medical rehabilitation in Malawi. It receives clients from government, mission and private hospitals throughout the country. Its referrals include those who have developed loss of function through stroke, road traffic accidents, neuromuscular diseases, infectious diseases like TB of the spine, meningitis ant others. Its specialized therapeutic services include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Many clients and specialized doctors from within the country and outside have realized the availability of the pool of skills at Kachere and motivated the centre to start offering a very competitive outpatient service to the public.
The centre has well qualified technical staff whose qualifications range between diploma and masters in various rehabilitation fields and are well supported by highly qualified administrative and support staff. The technical staff include physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech, language and communication therapists. These are supported by the rehabilitation and occupational therapy technicians who are trained within the centre. These services are complimented and well supported by well trained professional nursing staff.
The centre takes in clients through referrals from government, mission and private hospitals throughout the country. However, there have been some occasions when the centre has received self-referred clients and some from across the borders from Mozambique. However, clients are supposed to undergo an initial assessment to ensure that they have potential to benefit from their stay at the centre. Being the only centre in the country offering free services, the competition for beds cannot be ruled out. A waiting list is created and used on first come first served basis to bring fairness in the system. If a client takes some time to arrive following the initial referral, another assessment is done on arrival to ensure the potential has not been lost and help set the treatment goals and objectives. Those clients who are seen to have no potential are explained to and given reasons for not admitting them in.
The center has seen so many people from all walks of life pass through it. Some high ranking government and private company officials have benefitted from the centre. It makes the staff proud to learn that most of the clients that have accessed the services at the centre have managed to return to their previous occupations and businesses and have continued to contribute towards the development of the country. It no wonder that the centre attracts even clients from beyond borders.
Kachere used to have its donors from its inception until when government came in to be offering its monthly subvention after the donors left. The money realized from outpatients’ services also helps to supplement the budget. However, the requirements of the centre continue to rise to maintain the quality of services against the ever rising costs of resources. The other problem is that being the only centre providing free medical rehabilitation in the country, the capacity of 40 beds is now not enough. There is need to expand and double the capacity now to cope with the demand from the ever growing population. This means expanding the human and material resources as well. Plans are there to extend but requires funding which is not available at the moment.