Published on: October 28, 2013
Ms Sunshine Mugrabi, Pallium India’s volunteer in USA, writes:
Dr M.R. Rajagopal, Pallium India Chairman gave an impassioned and inspiring talk to a standing room only crowd on October 24, 2013. Hosted by Dr. Jyoti Lulla and Dr. Jerina Kapoor of Pallium India-USA, the evening event was held at Kaiser in Santa Clara, California.Dr. Rajagopal spoke of the urgent need to bring pain relief and appropriate palliative care to the suffering millions in India. He also shed light on the ongoing struggle for a palliative care policy by the government of India, which is progressing but has also encountered frustrating roadblocks.

In his talk he recounted the stories of two women in India who embodied the two extremes of end-of-life care. This dramatically illustrated the need for appropriate palliative care in the country. First, the story of a woman who was subjected to a kind of “high tech medical torture” in a prominent, well-known hospital in India, where she lay dying in the ICU with bright lights and unnecessary machines attached to her. The doctors there were deaf to the pleas of her daughter–who happens to be a palliative care physician in USA–for a more humane last few weeks of life. Her wishes were not honored.

“Unfortunately advance care directives tend to be ignored in Indian hospitals,” said Dr. Rajagopal, who lauded Pallium India-USA’s work in bringing the issue of Advance Healthcare Directives to the Indian community in the USA, where such documents tend to be respected and honored.

Next, he told the story of a young woman who came to him writhing in pain from advanced pancreatic cancer. Pallium India’s doctors treated her pain with morphine, which is available in the organization’s home state of Kerala at a relatively low cost.

As Dr. Rajagopal explained, relieving her pain was the easy part–as it turned out, the patient was afraid to die in peace because of fear that her 8-year-old daughter would be returned to the father who had tried to molest her. Pallium India then stepped in and helped provide legal protections for the daughter, so the woman could leave this world without fear. The happy result is that the young girl is living with an aunt and grandmother and the father is not allowed near her.

As always, Dr. Rajagopal’s quiet yet insistent tone resonated with many in the room, who shared their own stories and concerns about the need for palliative care in India, and indeed throughout the developing world. Pallium India-USA’s contributions have enabled development of a palliative care facility in Jamnagar in Gujarat, with plans for development of two  training centers, one each in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

The event was hosted by Pallium India-USA, with the generous use of Kaiser by member Dr. Jyoti Lulla, with a delicious dinner prepared by women in the group. Also in attendance was Dr. Evaleen Jones, founder of Child Family Health International, which partners with Pallium India to raise funds and awareness of the organization.In all, an inspiring, well-attended event. Click here for pictures of the event.

Pallium India USA 2013 OCT 24

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