Rontu Sangma, Regional Coordinator NE, State Facilitation, Pallium India, writes:
Palliative Care services in Nagaland began in 2013, to provide quality of life to people suffering from cancer, as the State began recording a relatively high prevalence of cancer when compared to other states. There are a few doctors and nurses who are trained in palliative care, in the state.
Palliative Care services are being provided at the Naga Hospital (NHK) at Kohima, Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CIHSR) at Dimapur, Eden Medical Centre at Dimapur (IP, OP and Home Based Palliative Care) and in a few other hospitals.
The Saint Joseph Palliative Care Centre at Chumukedima, Dimapur, is currently under construction and will be the first of its kind center to provide exclusive palliative care services in Nagaland. It was pleasing to visit the site. They plan to start this year.
Currently there is no State Palliative Care Policy in Nagaland but it is encouraging to see that a group of committed palliative care doctors have come together to provide palliative care services using the locally available resources. 3 of Nagaland’s 12 districts currently have access to Palliative Care. Plans are underway to increase coverage to other districts by motivating private practitioners and by training health care professionals within the public health system to actively implement palliative care in the primary health care centers in each district.
(From left: State Nodal Officer Dr Vinotsole Khamo, Principal Director Dr Neikhrielie Khimiao, Palliative Care in-charge of Naga Hospital Dr Lalkrawsthangi Khalo, Shalini AJ & Rontu Sangma)
During our official trip to Nagaland in November 2021, Shalini AJ (Head, State Facilitation team, Pallium India) and I visited Eden Medical Centre, Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CIHSR), Naga Hospital (NHK), and other places, and met important government dignitaries such as the Principal Director Dr.Neikhrielie Khimiao, State Nodal Officer Dr.Vinotsole Khamo, Palliative Care in-charge of Naga Hospital Dr.Lalkrawsthangi Khalo, the Joint Secretary Ms.Yongchingkumla and the CMO of Lonleng district Dr.Obangjungla.
It is worth noting that there is uninterrupted supply of opioid drugs both for the inpatients and outpatients in Naga Hospital Kohima (NHK), Eden Medical Centre and in the Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CIHSR). There are no hurdles or hindrances towards procuring the Essential Narcotic Drugs as per the amended NDPS Act. We could see the new RMI process being practised in Naga Hospital (NHK), Eden Medical Centre and in the Christian Institute of Health Sciences and Research (CIHSR).
There has not been an exclusive training in Palliative Care offered by the State Government at the moment but plans are underway. Pallium India’s State Facilitation Team has submitted a 10 days onsite foundation course in palliative care to Eden Medical Centre and a project proposal to Naga Hospital Kohima (NHK). We have also initiated a discussion to have a virtual orientation training programme with the State NHM to raise awareness in the communities regarding palliative care.