When Linda Pressly from BBC Radio walked into Pallium India’s Palliative Care Unit at Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences in S.U.T Hospital, she met up with Radha Bai and her husband. They were more than happy to be interviewed.
Listen to “Crossing Continents: Palliative Care in India”:
They explained how she seemed to be dying from subacute intestinal obstruction a year back (she has an active malignancy) and how palliative care made her well enough go home, functioning normally. A year later, now she is still on oral morphine and other medications, and is able to cook, look after her grand children and even attend parties!
The message is important because too often palliative care is associated with the dying process. Though available evidence shows that palliative care substantially prolongs life, this is not generally known.
Linda’s program will remove some of these myths from many minds.
The program presents the lack of access to palliative care in most of India and compares it with the situation in Kerala where a network of palliative care centers offer care to patients.
It’s estimated that nearly one million Indians with conditions like cancer die in acute, unnecessary pain because of the lack of palliative care. Restrictions on morphine prescription are being lifted, but too slowly.
One of the most sophisticated systems of palliative care in the developing world has been established in the Indian state of Kerala. The grassroots movement to create a much-valued and effective palliative care system in Kerala has been called a silent revolution. Every week, thousands of volunteers across the state give up their time to go and tend to those who are dying. They may cook food, help with chores, or simply provide a listening ear. Hundreds of thousands more people in Kerala belong to Palliative Care Societies. They donate money regularly – even just a few rupees – to help support this kind of outreach. The hope is that people will not die alone, and in pain, without any support.
Linda Pressly travels to Kerala, which has more palliative care centres than the rest of the country put together, and ask whether this is a model to treat the dying that could be rolled out in other nations, as well as other parts of India.
- Linda has a related story on the BBC News website about morphine availability in Rajasthan: Rajasthan patients’ severe pain due to lack of morphine…