Published on: June 13, 2023

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Pallium India Trust announces new Chairman; Dr M. R. Rajagopal elevated as Chairman Emeritus

Dr Soumya Swaminathan and Dr Vijayakumar join as trustees

Dear Friend,

We have some exciting news to share.

Two eminent personalities have joined Pallium India’s Board of Trustees. They are:

Dr Soumya Swaminathan (former Chief Scientist, World Health Organization)


Dr Vijayakumar K (Honorary Secretary, Health Action by People, Trivandrum).

As the chief scientist at the World Health Organization, Dr Soumya Swaminathan has led the Science Division during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, she was the Deputy Director General of Programmes (DDP) at the World Health Organization. She has also held various senior positions at Indian Council for Medical Research, National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis.

Dr Vijayakumar K has been the Prof & HOD for community medicine at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi and also the Professor of Community Medicine at CSI Medical College and Medical college Trivandrum. He has multiple national and international publications to his name and is a well known public health activist.

Welcome, Dr Soumya and Dr Vijayakumar. It is an honour to have you with us.

We are also happy to welcome Mr Binod Hariharan, the new Chairman of Pallium India’s board of trustees. Dr M R Rajagopal, the Founder of Pallium India, has been elevated as Chairman Emeritus and will continue to guide Pallium India in its journey forward.

Binod Hariharan is an engineering graduate with three decades of experience in different capacities. He is a successful entrepreneur and on the board of 3 IT companies. He has been a trustee of Pallium India for over ten years and has been actively involved with the organization since its inception. Binod has been a volunteer with Pain and Palliative care society, Calicut, and has held the position of Vice President IAPC, Kerala.

Click here to know more about Pallium India team

Dr Rajagopal will continue as the Director of Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences (TIPS), the flagship of Pallium India, which demonstrates palliative care delivery in and around Thiruvananthapuram, educates professionals who are interested to work in this field, and facilitates palliative care development across the country.

In 2018, Dr Rajagopal was honored with Padma Shri, the third highest civilian award of India.

Dr Rajagopal is one of the founders of Pain and Palliative Care Society (PPCS), Calicut, Kerala in 1993. In 1995, PPCS was recognized as a model demonstration project by the World Health Organization for community based palliative care activities.

In 2003, he, along with colleagues created Pallium India, a registered charitable trust with the intention of spreading palliative care to areas in India where they did not exist, and for palliative care advocacy. In 2006, Pallium India established Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences (TIPS) as its training, research and clinical demonstration unit. In 2012, TIPS was declared a WHO Collaborating Centre.

Human Rights Watch honored Dr Rajagopal with Alison Des Forges award at Los Angeles in November 2014. He was named one of the 30 most influential leaders in hospice and palliative medicine by American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2017.

Dr Rajagopal currently holds the position of Adjunct Professor of Global Oncology, Queen’s University, Canada, and is a Member, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation Board, among others.

Dr Rajagopal was the prime mover in the creation of the National Program for Palliative Care (NPPC) by the Ministry of Health of Government of India. His advocacy has contributed to amendment of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of India in 2014 and in its implementation—a critical step in reducing needless suffering and allowing millions to access pain relief.

A documentary film based on Rajagopal’s life, titled ‘Hippocratic: 18 Experiments in Gently Shaking the World‘ was released by Moonshine Agency, Australia, on World Palliative Care Day, 14 October 2017.

Dr Rajagopal has co-authored two Lancet Commission reports – one in 2017 on access to palliative care and the other on ‘Value of Death‘ published in 2022.

In 2022, Dr Rajagopal published his memoir ‘Walk with the Weary: Life changing lessons in Healthcare‘, where he shares lessons he learned while walking along the road of life limiting illness with people who changed his outlook on what matters the most when living with a critical illness, and also at the end of life.

These are only a few of his many achievements and laurels.

Please visit Dr Rajagopal’s Wikipedia page to know more about him

As Founder-Chairman of Pallium India, Dr Rajagopal has been the driving force behind this organization for twenty years, and we are glad and grateful that he will continue to guide us in the role of Chairman Emeritus.
We take this moment to thank Dr Raj for being available to each one of us whenever we needed support, for always being ready and eager to help in whichever way he could, and for teaching us about empathy and compassion, reminding us to always be humble and to respect every single person we meet in life.

We have one more bit of happy news to report: Thanks to the support of a few gracious donors, Pallium India has acquired 93 cents of land in Trivandrum, Kerala, to build the Pallium India Home, a long pending wish of the Trustees, the volunteers and the staff. The Pallium India home is expected to be built as an ideal demonstration centre for Palliative care. We hope to start the construction in the last quarter of 2023.

For close to twenty years, Pallium India has been striving to fortify the palliative care network in the country by collaborating with other organizations and individuals, and empowering healthcare professionals to integrate palliative care into their routine work. These new developments will bring Pallium India closer to its vision of providing pain relief and palliative care to every nook and corner of the country, where an estimated ten million people suffer from serious health related issues.

We look forward to your continued support.

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