Death with Dignity

2010 August 22

An article written by Mr T.V. Jayan in Calcutta’s daily newspaper, The Telegraph, refers to the same white paper and deals with the India’s need for palliative care.  It describes the development of the palliative care movement in Kerala and talks about the deplorable state of affairs in most of the country:

The article describes the development of the palliative care movement in Kerala and talks about the deplorable state of affairs in most of the country:

PK. Ashokkumar remembers those days so well. He watched his friend’s wife slowly succumb to the rogue cells that were eating up her body. The two doctors tending 28-year-old Soumini Radhakrishnan knew they couldn’t keep her alive, but were determined that she would die with dignity. Kumar watched while they steered her towards a near painless death — giving birth to a movement that has now swept across Kerala.

Read more at The Telegraph…

Where in India?Regional Map

Where is Calcutta ?

One Response
  1. Dr.Biju Raghavan permalink
    August 30, 2010

    Dear Sir

    ……………………Kumar watched while they steered her towards a near painless death — giving birth to a movement that has now swept across Kerala. “She was probably the first cancer patient in Kerala to receive palliative care,”…………

    These lines in the beginning of the article really disturbed me. This gives an impression that palliative care is about providing a good death (euthanasia).

    As a full time practicing specialist in Pain and Palliative Medicine, I am aware this is how most well meaning palliative care professionals and volunteers describe palliative care; however it is this very description which has been the bane of palliative care and perhaps the reason which has stigmatized palliative care so much. So much so that many doctors who are aware of palliative care still hesitate to send their patients to us because they either feel that their patients are not yet dying or that the patient or their family may get angry at the suggestion itself.

    We have nobody to blame but ourselves on this sorry state of affairs.

    May I suggest that instead of describing palliative care as something which provides a dignified / comfortable death; how about describing it as something which provides a dignified / comfortable life till death.

    This is not to negate the existence of death, nor due to any squeamishness about dealing with or talking about death either. However giving undue importance to death, instead of treating it as a natural and normal entity in our lives; makes it the defacto face of palliative care.

    Lets focus on life instead of death.

    Lets make sure that in every forum (public discussion, profession meets, print, electronic media) we project palliative care as something which celebrates life. Lets try to get out of the moribund state of our mindset and let in some fresh light and air. The time to make an image make over is long past due.

    Dr.Biju Raghavan MBBS, DPPM
    Specialist, Pain and Palliative Medicine
    Pallium India

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