Conference on women’s cancer at Tata Memorial Hospital Mumbai
It was a great honor for me to deliver the Dr Ketayun Dinshaw oration at Tata Memorial Hospital on 19th October, 2019. Not only because of the great person – Dr Dinshaw – in whose name the oration was. Not only because of the superlative words that Dr Jayita Deodhar used in her introduction. And not only for the critical mass – the elite audience. But also because of the two people who took the chair.
One was Dr Lucito D’Souza, the onco-surgeon who brought palliative care to India first. In 1986 he opened the first modern hospice in India, the Shanti Avedna Sadan. Another one in Goa and a third one in Delhi followed. The palliative care scene in India today stands on the shoulders of this great visionary.
The other was Ms Devika Bhojwani, a humanitarian who started the Women’s Cancer Initiative with Dr Dinshaw a decade and a half back. The relevance of this initiative can only be understood if one remembers the poor access and inequity of health care as a whole in India, which would tell us how much vulnerable people suffer. Women are discriminated against in the country, having less access to healthcare anyway and not infrequently abandoned when they are ill. This exceptional initiative, I hope, will pave the way for all of us to make sure that the care that we give and the services that we develop are equitable. And that the most vulnerable and the most needy are not abandoned.
Thank you Dr. Santosh Menon, Dr Jaya Ghosh and Dr Lavanya for giving me this opportunity.
By the way, if you want to go a bit deeper into the history of this beginning of palliative care in India, you can read Dr D’Souza’s article in “Today’s clinician” published from Goa on 12 October 2019. The publication also carries articles by Anne Mattam, D Nevisa, B. Schmidt and D.A.N.Mascarenhas, Vidya Viswanath, A.S.Chagla, P.P.D’Souza and T.Narayan.