Recognition At Last: Palliative Care is Finally Having Its Day

2012 February 7
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Host a Screening!

Across the global media over the past week–from Singapore to India to Kenya–there is talk of the need for appropriate pain care.

The spark? The release of the documentary film “LIFE Before Death,” and numerous screenings on World Cancer Day, February 4.

The response has truly been awe inspiring. We have been impressed not only with the number of newspaper articles, blog posts, and other items, but also with the high quality of coverage of this pressing issue.

For example, The Straits Times of Singapore ran an article in their Sunday edition, “Doctor’s pain relief mission for terminally ill” (subscription req’d), that provided a solid context to help people understand the crucial need for this type of medicine.

The Times of India had a piece, “Helping face death in dignity” (subscription req’d), that provided a compelling history of the movement for palliative care in India, with a focus on Pallium India. The article sums up the progress that has been made:

“The Kerala model of palliative care has begun to spread the wings elsewhere in the country. Small movements have been successful in states like Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Mizoram. Pallium India which has already set up a palliative care centre in Hyderabad is on the process of setting up full-fledged centres in the northern states also.”

Meanwhile, the New Indian Express gave positive coverage of the Morphine Manifesto, which now has over 1,300 signatures, and growing.

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia ran a piece that picked up on the fact that the film “Life Before Death” is narrated by the well-known actor David Suchet, best known for his portrayal of the inimitable Hercule Poirot in the Agatha Christie mystery series. The headline reads “Poirot and the battle with pain,” and shows a picture of Suchet in his signature role, complete with waxed moustache and arched eyebrows. The article tackles the issue in a way that is both accessible to the general public and hard-hitting. It reads, in part:

“The absence of pain medication, especially morphine-style drugs, in the developing world has been a result of the focus on ‘cure rather than care’, poor health systems but also regulations against narcotics use.

Melbourne filmmakers Mike Hill and Sue Collins, say there is zero public understanding that the solution to the ‘appalling’ problem of untreated pain is simple – morphine is inexpensive and easy to administer.

‘I think it is one of the least recognised global health issues,’ Hill told the Herald yesterday.”

Thanks to this film and the many hands that went into disseminating its message, the issue is now on the media’s radar at a never-before-seen level.

The next step, of course, is to ensure that this spate of coverage isn’t lost as the next “big thing” grabs the press’s attention.

For those who are committed to seeing things through, there is much work to do, and much to be glad about.


The LIFE Before Death feature film was premiered on 1 February 2012 in Singapore. Pallium India will be screened the film on February 3 in Trivandrum.

Why not organise a screening in your community? GET MORE INFORMATION HERE…

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