Hi, my name is Kenneth Ngwira Mkandawire and I am 13 years old. I reside in Lilongwe, Malawi, after relocating from Mzuzu (which is about 279 kilometers from Lilongwe), the northern part of Malawi, to access health services. I am courageously battling kidney failure.

My journey began in 2021, when I went from a healthy childhood to a life filled with health challenges. My symptoms—body pain, vomiting, and facial and body swelling—prompted my father to seek medical assistance. This quest led us through different hospitals before I was finally diagnosed with kidney failure at Kamuzu Central Hospital. I am sharing my story because it shows the urgent need for equitable access to healthcare and support for children living with NCDs in Malawi. Every child, no matter their circumstance, deserves this.

Visual Diary

29 January 2024

My diagnosis

My journey with kidney failure started at Kamuzu Central Hospital, where I experienced six challenging months in the paediatric department. As I was 12 at the time, I was placed in the paediatric ward. My condition started with severe symptoms such as body pain, swelling, and vomiting. Initially, I relied on oxygen to alleviate shortness of breath, but eventually transitioned to dialysis therapy, which became a cornerstone of my life. This time was very painful. I was confined to bed full-time and unable to eat until the initiation of dialysis, which greatly improved my health.


A photograph capturing the exterior view of Kamuzu Central Hospital, a bustling institution in Lilongwe, Malawi. The image showcases part of the hospital building, a place that holds immense significance in Kenneth's struggle and journey with kidney failure.

Visual Diary

29 January 2024

My NCD care journey

When I found out I was sick, everything changed. I spent a lot of time at the hospital getting treatment. Because of this, I couldn't go to school like I used to. In Malawi, we don't have special dialysis machines for children. The doctors thought about using a treatment called peritoneal dialysis, but there's still a chance of getting an infection with this treatment. Instead, I use hemodialysis for my treatment. I have a catheter in my chest which helps me with my treatment. Having small veins makes it tricky for the doctors to fix the AV fistula – we don’t have special doctors for this in our country. I also had to choose between going to school and having treatment to stay healthy.


Waiting at Kamuzu Central Hospital after a dialysis session, preparing for my 11km journey back home.

Visual Diary

29 January 2024

Challenges living with NCDs

The physical complications of renal failure are only part of the story. We are fortunate that dialysis is free of charge but my father, a watchman, struggles with a poor wage, making it difficult to pay for medicine and transportation to and from appointments. There are many children living with NCDs in my country whose parents experience similar financial challenges. Transportation to the dialysis unit and obtaining necessary medications such as calcium and calcitriol are big challenges, especially for children that live in rural areas.


Kamuzu central Hospital Dialysis unit where I do my dialysis every Tuesday and Friday.

Visual Diary

29 January 2024

My support system

Where I live, many children have diseases, but they can't always get the medicine they need. Some have asthma, like my friend. He has a tough time getting the right medicine and inhalers because they are usually out of stock at the clinic, and even when they are available they are very expensive. There's another friend who battles with kidney failure and he struggles to get healthcare too. It is tough for his dad to get the money needed for his medicine. Sometimes, they have trouble getting to the hospital because they don't have enough money for transport. In the countryside, it's even harder because there aren't many doctors, and it costs a lot to get better. We want every kid, no matter where they live or what's wrong with them, to get the help they need.


At Area 23 depot, beginning the 11 km journey to Kamuzu Central Hospital.

Visual Diary

29 January 2024

A call to action

Myself and lots of other children who have kidney problems or other sicknesses really need things to get better. I want people who make decisions in Malawi to help. We need more doctors and nurses to keep hospitals open longer so we can go after school. Children living in the countryside should also have access to good healthcare.

It's important that everyone can afford the medicine and special food they need. We really need treatment suitable for children to help us get better.


This is a photo of me with my father and my brother. Their unwavering support is integral to my healthcare and advocacy journey, guiding me through sharing my lived experiences and calls for change.

NCD Diaries

My NCD Diary shows the silent struggle of children like me facing health inequities. Equity in healthcare means every child, regardless of their background, deserves access to quality treatment and support to battle NCDs.

Kenneth Ngwira Mkandawire, lived experience of chronic kidney disease, Malawi


The NCD Diaries use rich and immersive multimedia approaches to share lived experiences to drive change, using a public narrative framework.

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