Advance Medical Directives and Withholding/Withdrawing life support
At the National Bioethics conference at Pune in 2017, where End of Life Care was the theme, I had made one request to Dr Soumya Swaminathan, (the then director general of Indian Council of Medical Research, ICMR, and currently, deputy director general at World Health Organisation) to create a document officially defining terms like ‘euthanasia’ which were creating a lot of confusion in the public and professional minds.
She immediately agreed and set the process in motion, assigning Dr Roli Mathur to take the lead. Many experts, from the fields of both Medicine and Law, worked with ICMR to create a landmark document which was published on the 12th of March 2018. The whole document can be seen here: Definition of terms used in limitation of treatment and providing palliative care at end of life
As a follow up action, on 5th June 2018, a meeting was organised at ICMR, Bengaluru. The objective: the creation of two white papers, one outlining the procedure for advance medical directives and the other for withholding/withdrawing artificial life support. Stalwarts in critical care and end of life care, including Dr Raj Mani, Dr Shiva Iyer, Dr Nagesh Simha, Dr Roop Gursahani and Dr Naveen Salins participated along with legal experts Shri Alok Prasanna Kumar and Dr Nandimath Omprakash and ICMR officials.
These processes are essential to make our country a better place for us to live in and die in. We have to accept that currently India is rated as one of the worst countries as far as quality of end of life care is concerned.
Thank you Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Dr Balram Bhargava (current DG), Dr Vasantha Muthuswamy, Dr Roli Mathur and all at ICMR.