At this moment, over a million people in India are in unimaginable pain. We refuse to look the other way. We choose to hear the cry, and to do what we can.
Please join us. Your help is needed.

National health policy

2017 March 17

We hear that Government of India has finally approved the National health policy document. According to this report, healthcare spending which is currently at an abysmally low 1.1% of GDP, (every civilised country spends at least 5% of its GDP on healthcare) will, in stages, rise to 2.5%. We are also very glad to see that some opening promos mention palliative care along with geriatric care as a major component of primary health care.

We shall eagerly look forward to see the policy document as it gets uploaded on Government of India’s website.

Bursaries for Asia Pacific Hospice Conference

2017 March 16

Asia Pacific Hospice Network (APHN) is offering 4 bursaries for members to attend the 12th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference in Singapore on 26th to 29th July 2017. Each successful applicant will receive support of up to SGD 1,100 which is meant to help the cost of the conference registration, travel and accommodation.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Must be a current individual member of APHN
  • Application is supported by 2 other APHN members
  • Must have an accepted abstract for the APHC
  • Must submit a report on the benefits of attendance within 3 months after attending APHC

Preference will be given to applicants who

  • Work in a palliative care service
  • Are from developing countries
  • Have not received sponsorship for attending regional and international palliative care conferences

Applications must be submitted online by 31 March 2017.

For more details and to apply, visit: APHN Bursary for APHC 2017

Who tortures the dying? The family or the doctors?

2017 March 14

(Photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)

A news report by Sophie Borland published recently in the Daily Mail discusses how hundreds of thousands of elderly patients are being forced to endure unnecessary and potentially harmful treatment at the end of their lives.

A global study, which involved 1.6 million patients across eight countries, found that families cause loved ones to suffer at the end of life by begging doctors for unnecessary treatments, including elderly patients, who are being forced to endure unnecessary and potentially harmful treatment at the end of their lives.

Up to one third are given chemotherapy, dialysis, blood transfusions or CPR in their final weeks, which are of no benefit and only serves to prolong suffering. Researchers say family members are unwilling to let loved ones go and pressurise doctors into performing ‘heroic interventions’, which denied dignified death.

A review by researchers at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, estimates that up to 38 per cent of patients are put through unnecessary treatment at the end of their life. This includes radiotherapy, scans, resuscitation or feeding tubes which doesn’t extend their lives and only prolongs suffering.

Dr Magnolia Cardona-Morrell, whose research is published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, said that as a result, many patients were ending their lives in operating theatres or intensive care units rather than at home.

But we ask: Is it fair to blame the families? Or does the problem point to grossly inadequate communication and counselling of the family? Naturally they would be anxious and grieving, would they not? Don’t we need to have a more robust health care system that would help the family to come to a state of acceptance?

“Doctors also struggle with the uncertainty of the duration of the dying trajectory and are torn by the ethical dilemma of delivering what they were trained to do, save lives, versus respecting the patient’s right to die with dignity.” She also highlighted a culture of ‘doing everything possible’ even though it may not benefit the patient. Her research looked at 38 previous studies.

Simon Chapman, Director of Policy and External Affairs, National Council for Palliative Care said: “We all die one day, and we need to challenge the idea that death is somehow a medical failure.”

Read the full report: Families cause loved ones to suffer at the end of life by ‘begging doctors for unnecessary treatments’

Put yourself in the place of a person with a disability

2017 March 13

Ashla Krishnan

If you have not thought about the word empathy, give a minute to put yourself in the place of someone who has a disability or paralysis.

Pallium India’s volunteer, Ashla Krishnan, writes in the Times of India:

I live my life on a wheelchair. I cannot move my lower limbs. I have only partial use of my arms and hands. I cannot hold a cup; I cannot even comb my own hair.

I have quadriplegia.

I have two choices. I have a loving family. I am sure my mother, my sister and other family members will take care of me. I need only to stay in bed. They will feed me, bathe me, and do all they can to make my life comfortable.

But I want you to know that my paralysis does not define me. I want you to recognise that I am more than my body. My brain, ordinary as it is, still functions. I also have other abilities.

I am a Master of Computer Applications and can do several things. I can use my skills to earn a living. Not only that, I can even contribute to society. My family’s loving physical support can only keep my body alive. To enliven my mind and soul, I need to be considered a human being.

I began by saying I am a quadriplegic. But I would want you to think of me as a human being with quadriplegia.

Read the complete article at: When compassion isn’t enough: Society must wake up to the rights of those living with disabilities

For what good is the science of palliative care without the art?

2017 March 13

“Madam, palliative care is an art,” says Moulana, Chairman of Thanal Charitable Trust, to Dr Ann Broderick who visited his palliative care facility in Lakshadweep, off Kerala Coast.

Dr Ann Broderick is a volunteer-consultant in Palliative Medicine from University of Iowa. She writes in her blog about her visit to the joint palliative care project that Pallium India had initiated with Thanal Charitable Trust, and taking part in their home visit programs, and a moving experience she had: Is a razor in your palliative care toolbox?