Shattering Myths About Morphine
A recent article in The Hindu about a palliative care unit in Bangalore goes a long way towards debunking many of them.
The article, headlined “Leading gently into that good night,” starts off with a story of a female patient in the Palliative Care Unit of the Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, who is dying of cancer.
“I want to live to see my daughters married. Who will take care of my children if I die?,” asks Gowramma Amaresh even as she chokes on the last few words, overcome by emotion.
She is one of the thousands of patients seen at this State-run institution, and, like so many others in India, is at a point where cure for her disease is no longer possible. Unlike 99% of the Indian population in need, however, she has access to appropriate pain care.
As Dr. Nagesh Simha, Medical Director of Karunashraya and chairperson of Bangalore Hospice Trust that runs the centre explains in the article, the lack of access is “because of bureaucratic red tape in the procurement of morphine.”
The article goes on to explain: “Palliative care starts with managing severe pain and the most effective method is administration of oral morphine. Only a few hospitals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Bangalore have palliative care units.”
Perhaps most notable, the article includes a graphic that illustrates some of the most common myths about morphine, such as that it is addictive, or that it should only be used for terminally ill patients.