November 2012 Newsletter
We are happy to inform you that the Supreme Court of India’s proceedings on our Public Interest Litigation seem to be coming towards a conclusion. The case was filed jointly by Indian Association of Palliative Care (represented by Dr M.R.Rajagopal), Ms Poonam Bagai (a cancer survivor and chairman of CanKids) and Dr Ravi Ghooi (who had filed a public interest litigation in Delhi High Court in 1995 asking for morphine for his mother). We had asked for the Court’s intervention to ensure several steps by the Government to improve access to palliative care.
The Supreme Court’s proceedings have already had some positive fallouts. We understand that three more Indian states – West Bengal, Meghalaya and Nagaland – have simplified their narcotic regulations. (We are so glad that some good things are happening!)
We look forward to the next hearing by the Supreme Court early in December 2012. In the meantime, please read on about action by India’s Department of Health and Family Welfare.
After several months of hard work by several Government officials and several palliative care experts, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Government of India is now ready with a strategy document on Palliative Care for the current Five Year Plan. The Times of India reports:
Providing people with a comfortable end stage life has finally got the government’s attention.
The health ministry will inform the Supreme Court on Monday that a Rs 636 crore ‘National Programme on Palliative Care’ has been finalized to make end stage life of patients suffering from cancer and HIV, besides the country’s swelling elderly population, as painless as possible.
A ministry analysis on the pattern of death says that less than 15% of people in India die suddenly. It has been estimated that less than 2% of people have access to palliative care that can relieve suffering at the end of life. More than 75% patients who visit a hospital are in the late stages of diseases.
India is home to 908 palliative care centres of which 841 are in Kerala. Therefore, for the vast majority of Indians, there is extremely limited access to quality palliative care services.
Pallium India would particularly congratulate and thank Dr Sudhir Gupta, Additional Director General of Health Services of Government of India.
Dr Geeta Joshi, writing from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, informs us about the wonderful developments in Gujarat Cancer & Research Institute. The institute’s new Department of Palliative Medicine was inaugurated on 03 November 2012. Dr Geeta Joshi is the Head of the Department. She has also been elevated to the position of Deputy Director of the institute.
Congratulations Dr Geeta Joshi. We all share your joy. We see this as a very important step for Gujarat. The otherwise progressive state has so little palliative care. (Pallium India has a project in Medical College, Jamnagar, where Dr Suresh Agarwal has developed a palliative care center with Dr Jitesh Sarvaiah as palliative care physician; but to the best of our knowledge, these two are the only palliative care centers in the state).
We are also glad to note that JivDaya Foundation (JDF) headed by Dr Vinay Jain is supporting the palliative care program at Ahmedabad – one of more than 20 programs supported by JDF.
Congratulations Dr Geeta Joshi. Your hard work, enthusiasm and initiative are paying off.
Finally, the day has come. The NCD Alliance has been working very hard to get palliative care on the United Nation’s agenda on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). Pallium India is proud to have collaborated in the movement.
Palliative care has been recognised to be one of the important components of the program and the following “indicator” has been approved.
Access to palliative care assessed by morphine-equivalent consumption of strong opioid analgesics (excluding methadone) per death from cancer. [pdf]
There are questions asked about how appropriate the indicator is – IAHPC, for example, has arrived at a consensus that per capita opioid consumption is a much better indicator than “per death from cancer” – but, for the moment, let us rejoice that ‘suffering” is getting some attention, rather than “diseases”.
The NCD Alliance was founded by four international NGO federations representing the four main NCDs:
- cardiovascular disease
- chronic respiratory disease
Together with other major international NGO partners, the NCD Alliance unites a network of over 2,000 civil society organizations in more than 170 countries. The mission of the NCD Alliance is to combat the NCD epidemic by putting health at the centre of all policies.
We thank the NCD Alliance for the advocacy and particularly Claire Morris and team for all the hard work on behalf of palliative care.
True to form, Dr Divakaran handed over the purse to the organization and in his acceptance speech, shared the recognition with the members of his team.
Congratulations, Dr Divakaran!
The first Dr Palpu Memorial Award was handed over to Pallium India’s chairman at the full V.J.T Hall in Trivandrum by Sri K.C. Joseph, Cultural Affairs Minister of Government of Kerala on the 149th birthday of Kerala’s revered physician and social reformer, Dr Palpu.
The saga of Dr Palpu’s life has one close relationship with palliative care. His first salary as a doctor was spent on buying blankets for the poor in the street, who would be shivering with cold in the winter months.
When you remember that the word “Pallium” (from which originated the phrase “Palliative Care”) means a cloak or a cover, the relationship is striking, is it not?
We thank Dr Palpu Memorial Foundation for the recognition to palliative care and to the handsome purse which Pallium India really needed, of course.
It’s a professional organization that’s been in existence for 43 years and has made $5 million in charitable grants, but ICA – Indians for Collective Action – is still pretty much an unknown in the Bay Area, its former president says.
But that may be changing as more young professionals decide to get involved.
“Nowadays you see so many young people who want to make an impact, who want to reconnect with their South Asian roots after being brought up in the Bay Area,” says Bhupen Mehta. “But changing the mind-set of older people, people in my age group, to give back has been much harder.”
That concept of service is at the core of ICA – an association of Bay Area professionals who have established careers in technology and business but want to make a social impact, too.
So they gather monthly to assess social projects, primarily in India, in need of funding and support. Among the projects the group has helped support are women’s empowerment communities, low-cost prosthetics units, annual health camps and care for senior citizens.
ICA has been helping Pallium India (USA) since its inception. Thank you ICA.
Come to Bangalore for the Annual Conference of Indian Association of Palliative Care 2013
Dr Linge Gowda, Head of Department of Palliative Medicine Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology invites you to the forth coming 20th International Conference of Indian Association of Palliative Care.
- Venue: Nimhans Convention Centre in Bengaluru, India
- Date: 8th to 10th February, 2013
- Website: iapccon2013.in
- Contact person: Dr Linge Gowda, Organising Secretary
PARTING SHOT – A CHRISTMAS APPEAL
One of the most worthwhile social support activities of Pallium India is our program for educational support of children.
In the event of the breadwinner of a family dying or becoming paralyzed, children of those families are often forced to drop out of school. Pallium India endeavours to prevent this and supports their schooling till their education is completed. In addition, the children get career guidance as well as help in personality development through summer camps and so on.
The average annual expenses of a child in school works out to just INR 4000 ($ 75).
We have so far managed to find the funds for this, but now the numbers are rising and we shall certainly appreciate help from any quarter.
But this appeal is for something a little bigger. We have now a B.Sc nursing student and family in distress, having lost her father and now unable to pay her fees. Her first year’s fees were paid last year, but now there are two more instalments to go. This year, she needs Rs. 140,000 ($ 2650). The family and Pallium India would be very grateful for anyone who would contribute towards the cause. If you can, please go to: http://palliumindia.org/donate/
May be this could be the most worthwhile Christmas gift that you could make this year!
Don’t forget to sign the Morphine Manifesto!
posted by palliumindia in Newsletter