Published on: January 16, 2017

We do declare; palliative care has come of age in India.

Are we rash in making such a statement, when palliative care is reaching only one percent of the needy? Well, we have evidence. This picture is one.

For the last quarter of a century, palliative care was the topic only in palliative care conferences. For the first time, another body has made it the theme of their conference – the theme of the National Bioethics Conference held at Pune from 13-15 January, 2017 organized by the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics, and the Forum for Medical Ethics Society was “Healing and dying with dignity: Ethical issues in palliative care, end-of-life care and euthanasia”.

There were 350 people in the audience, which included very famous personalities like Dr Binayak Sen, the winner of the Jonathan Mann award, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the Director of Indian Council of Medical Research, to name but two.

20 different organizations co-hosted the conference, the notable among which were the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, Indian Academy of Neurology and Indian Association of Palliative Care.

Pallium India’s chairman, Dr M R Rajagopal, was felicitated at the opening ceremony. He also gave an inaugural address along with two dignitaries, Vidyatai Bal, the founder of Nari Samata Manch, and Syed Adibul Hasan Rizvi from Pakistan, winner of the 1998 Magsaysay award.

Pallium India also facilitated a workshop on the marginalised in palliative care and took part in two other workshops – one on strategies in palliative care and the other, a pre-conference workshop on 12th January. The poster presented by Dr Sreedevi Warrier, “She is all I have” about ethical dilemmas attracted attention and so did the presentation on “Consent, assent and confidentiality issues in studies on institutionalised adolescence” presented by Pallium India’s Project Officer, Sumitha T. S.

Though the confusion in the minds of many associating palliative care with only end of life care, still seemed rampant, the overarching message running through the conference was one of integration of palliative care into health care as a whole.

Pallium India team left the conference venue more than satisfied with high hopes for the future.

Thank you, everyone at IJME and FMES.

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