Care Beyond Cure

Pallium India, India

Aishwarya Sharma on October 24, 2018 in Health & Sanitation

India is categorized as a developing country; however, over the past 20 years, increases in the aging population and prevalence of advanced cancer are common. Together with China, the country has the second largest population in the world. It is estimated that one million new cases of cancer occur each year in India, with over 80% presenting at stage III and IV. The need of palliative care in India is immense.

Palliative care is a health care specialty that is both a philosophy of care and an organized, highly structured system for delivering care to persons with life-threatening or debilitating illness from diagnosis till death and then into bereavement care for the family. Palliative care improves health care quality in three domains: the relief of physical and emotional suffering; improvement and strengthening of the process of patient–physician communication and decision-making; and assurance of coordinated continuity of care across multiple healthcare settings—hospital, home, hospice, and long-term care. The WHO defined palliative care as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial, and spiritual.” The goal of palliative care is, therefore, to improve the quality of life of both patients and families by responding to pain and other distressing physical symptoms, as well as to provide nursing care and psycho-social and spiritual support. This is why it is best administered by an interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional team, comprising doctors, nurses, counsellors, social workers, and volunteers.

The concept of palliative care is relatively new to India, having been introduced only in the mid-1980s. Since then, hospice and palliative care services have developed through the efforts of committed individuals, including Indian health professionals as well as volunteers, in collaboration with international organizations and individuals from other countries. In 1975, the Government of India initiated a National Cancer Control Program. By 1984, this plan was modified to make pain relief one of the basic services to be delivered at the primary health care level. Unfortunately, this policy was not translated into extensive service provision. The hospice and palliative care movement in India started tentatively in the mid-1980s and has slowly increased over the last two decades.

To help people in pain, with government, many NGOs step forward to provide care with compassion. Similarly, one of them is Pallium India, a national registered charitable trust formed in 2003. Their vision is to make “ An India in which palliative care is integrated in all health care so that every person has access to effective pain relief and quality palliative care along with disease – specific treatment and across the continuum of care” and their mission is "To catalyse the development of effective pain relief and quality palliative care services and their integration in health care across India through delivery of services, education, building capacities, policy, research, advocacy and information."

Pallium India has also collaborated with other organizations to develop centres in Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Puducherry, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Some of their achievements are-

  • Developed palliative care services in many states and Union Territories
  • Catalysed the development of palliative care training centres
  • Established TIPS as a WHO Collaborating Centre
  • Helped simplify Narcotic Regulations for Opioid Access
  • Initiated and spearheaded a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court of India for improved access to palliative care
  • Helped development of National Program for Palliative Care
  • Developed a National Standards Tool to ensure quality palliative care
  • Contributed to the development of curriculum and essential educational tools
  • Advocated palliative care nationally and internationally
  • Played a major role in Kerala’s Palliative Care Policy

We salute to such noble souls who are working hard to make many lives easy to live with so much love and care with compassion. To know more about Pallium India, visit right away!

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