The first hospice in India, Shanti Avedna Sadan, was started by cancer surgeon Dr. Luzito DeSousa in Mumbai. The 30-bed Goa unit was opened in 1986 and has so far treated over 30,000 patients completely free of cost.
Goa is the smallest state of the Indian union with an area of 3702 sq km. With 2 districts of North Goa and South Goa, it has a population of 1.82 million.
The Goa Medical College and Hospital is the premiere and only tertiary care government hospital in the state. The Department of Medical Oncology was started here in August 2018. More than 3000 cancer patients have been registered to date with an average of 1000 new cancer patients diagnosed each year. Since more than half the patients present in advanced stage of the disease, the need for setting up Palliative care services was acutely felt.
The Goa government has decided to draft a palliative care policy this year in view of the increased burden on the state’s health care system due to rise in non- communicable diseases.
To make palliative care available at primary levels, and in line with the National Programme for Palliative care, health services joined hands with Cipla Foundation and a unit was started at the South Goa district hospital.
The other palliative care center in Goa is the 25 bed Dilasa Palliative care Center, inaugurated in December 2018 and is an initiative of the Indian Medical Association, Ponda branch.
There are several Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) working in tandem with doctors and nurses to make palliative care available in remote areas of Goa. Sabrcare, a trust started by young enthusiastic professionals works mostly in the area of childhood cancer and offers support to families of children with cancer.
Palliative care remains incomplete if we do not have access to opioids and there are lot of challenges regarding availability of morphine and other essential narcotic drugs across the country. To address and discuss this issue, a virtual session on Opioids was conducted on 4 July 2023 after getting a confirmation from Mrs Jyoti Sardesai, Director Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Goa.
Around 45 participants from all across Goa participated in the workshop. From the FDA Department along with the Director, the Deputy Drug Controllers, Asst Drug Controllers and Drug Inspectors were present in the workshop. There were many higher officials from the Directorate of Health Services also. Apart from them we also had officials from the Goa Medical College and Indian Medical Association, Goa.
We had representatives from different NGOs in Goa working in the field of Palliative care. CIPLA Foundation officials were also part of this online workshop.
The workshop began with an introduction of the participants and a presentation on opioids by Dr. M R Rajagopal, the Founder of Pallium India. The workshop’s objective was to ensure safe and uninterrupted access to Essential Narcotic Drugs (ENDs) for pain relief.
There was a long discussion on current scenario of ENDs in Goa & on NDPS Amendment. The importance of RMI was explained and the forms were discussed.
The FDA team members actively participated in the Q & A session. Mrs Jyoti Sardesai stated that currently there is no shortage of opioids in Goa and the RMI 3 G certificates are being issued on a regular basis
Some of the common myths / misconceptions about RMI was clarified. It was a very interactive and interesting session. The workshop was closed on a positive note.
(Report prepared by Sunanda Samal, Regional Facilitator -Central India, Pallium India)