At this moment, over a million people in India are in unimaginable pain. We refuse to look the other way. We choose to hear the cry, and to do what we can.
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White paper for Global Palliative Care Advocacy from the Vatican

2018 September 28

On the 27th of September 2018, the Pontifical Academy for Life of the Vatican released a white paper calling upon all in global health care to treat suffering, not just diseases, by including palliative care as a part of health care. In view of the fact that Catholic institutions account for 27% of all health care in the world, this is of particular importance.


(Image courtesy: EAPC. Read more: https://eapcnet.wordpress.com/2018/09/27/the-catholic-church-advocates-for-palliative-care/)

Pope Francis had always been a strong advocate of palliative care. In 2015 he had said, “I encourage professionals and students to specialize in this type of assistance which is no less valuable for the fact that it is not life-saving. [Palliative care] accomplishes something equally important: it values the person[1]”.

The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) is an academic institution of the Holy See (Vatican) dedicated to the promotion of human life, including medical ethics. In 2017, the PAV launched an international project called “PAL-LIFE: An International Advisory Working Group on diffusion and development of palliative care in the world” to advise on how the Catholic Church could assist in continued PC development at the global level. 13 experts from various parts of the globe participated in the working group, including one from India, Dr M.R.Rajagopal. representing Pallium India.

The white paper calls upon hospitals and health care institutions to integrate palliative care service and education, including access to essential medicines, to all health care. The recommendations of the white paper has been published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine and can be seen at https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jpm.2018.0248

One potential impact of this white paper is the removal of a huge chunk of pain and suffering in the country particularly because the Catholic church runs more than 300 hospitals and more than 1500 health centres across India. Pallium India has a memorandum of understanding with Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) to improve access to palliative care and we are in the process of training a cohort of professionals for this purpose.

Pallium India thanks the Pontifical Academy for Life and CHAI for this opportunity to work with them on this important initiative.

[1] Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to participants In the plenary of the Pontifical Academy For Life (5 March 2015). Available from: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2015/march/documents/papa-francesco_20150305_pontificia-accademia-vita.html

MoHFW awarded two UNIATF Awards for 2018

2018 September 28

The UN Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (UNIATF) at its 10th meeting in Vienna in February 2018 initiated the UNIATF award to recognize those making an outstanding contribution to NCD prevention and control. The first awards were presented during the “Friends of the Task Force” meeting in the margins of the Third High-level Meeting on NCDs at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, on 27 September 2018.

Two awards have been awarded to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. One in the category of: Outstanding Ministries of Health and the second in the category of: Outstanding individuals in Ministries of Health. This has been awarded to Shri Manoj Jhalani, Additional Secretary and Mission Director (NHM) for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India. (Image courtesy: MoHFW, Govt of India)

Hearty Congratulations! For more details on the award: http://www.who.int/ncds/un-task-force/events/2018-awards/en/

Government picks a new panel to run MCI

2018 September 27

In a surprise move, the central government promulgated an ordinance on September 26, 2018, to remove all the office-bearers of the scam-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI) and appoint a seven-member Board of Governor (BoG) to run the medical education regulator for the next one year.

The BoG will be chaired by NITI Ayog member Vinod Paul, a former professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

Read the report in the Deccan Herald: https://www.deccanherald.com/national/govt-sacks-mci-members-picks-694832.html

Kerala floods: when the rich and the poor suffered together

2018 September 25

(Image: Pallium India’s team at a relief camp.)

In the third week of August, Pallium India’s Advocacy Manager, Babu Abraham was deputed to Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts to assess the needs of those medically affected by the recent floods in Kerala that took a heavy toll and rendered a vast section of the population homeless and jobless that forced them to lead a life of penury at least in the foreseeable future. 

Babu writes:

Before I left for Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, I received a call from Cheshire Home in Trivandrum asking me to go over there. On arriving, I was pleasantly surprised to know that it was to receive gifts from the inmates of Cheshire Home (who constituted the aged and otherwise disabled patients) for the flood affected populace. The remarkable thing about this kind gesture was that these gifts were actually Onam gifts that they had received from their well wishers. It also included items that they had produced for sale as part of their rehabilitation process. With the unfortunate situation that they themselves were in, they could well understand the plight that their homeless and suffering brethren were going through. They got their satisfaction in giving for a noble cause at the right time, something they would not have got out of Onam this time.

I was also stumped by an old lady at the Cheshire Home, who whispered in my ear, “I have nothing else to give but my 5 months pension of ₹5,000 that remained unspent, which please accept. I would want to give more, but this is all that I have.” I was moved by such kind gestures. Who wouldn’t be? These are but a fraction of what our brave heroes amongst the fisher folk, armed forces, police, NDRF, civil society, government and the youth have done to save people from the clutches of imminent death and bring them relief.

In Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta, I worked with District authorities and that of the Social Justice Dept viz. Dr.Prathibha PTA DPM, Ms.Sheeba, KAPS, AKWRF, Fr.Manoj, World In Need, Shafiq, Kuruvilla etc who guided various NGOs operating there to fan out to places such as Ranni, Pandalam, Tiruvalla, Kozenchery, Chengannur, Aranmula etc.

For the first time in my life, I saw the rich and the poor suffering together. They were all housed in camps as a mixed lot. There were only 4 toilets for 1,000 people as against a single rich household having more than 4 toilets for themselves. It was impossible to enter the toilets. But, the authorities had their limitations. This must have been the most expensive lesson in human relations. The camp held many people who were wheelchair bound. They had lost their wheelchairs, beds etc in the floods and their condition was very pathetic with some of them having developed bed sores, some that needed plastic surgery. One such person was admitted to Pushpagiri medical college for surgery to be done free of cost by their charity wing. We have been approaching donors for wheelchairs and beds and have received commitment for 10 wheel chairs. Getting the rest will take some time.

On the whole, it has been a new awakening for me and, I am sure, for all of mankind.

Women of substance!

2018 September 24

In Coimbatore railway station, you will find this waiting room designed for the differently-abled, with a ramp for access. It would seem so happily different from the order of the day and you would wonder, how did this come about? Then you would see the sign of Swarga foundation who made it happen. Swarga foundation was founded by Swarnalatha, who has been living with multiple sclerosis since 2009. What an achiever! Indeed, “not just special; but limited edition.”

You will not regret it if you spend a couple of minutes to visit https://thelogicalindian.com/my-social-responsibility/swarnalatha-swarga-foundation/.

If you are anywhere near Coimbatore on September 29th, don’t miss this event – the 4th Anniversary celebrations and the launch of the 4th edition of the calendar “I’m special” (Click on the image to enlarge it).

And are we at Pallium India pleased! Our own Ashla Rani is featured in the calendar.

Way to go, Swarga Foundation. Way to go, Swarnalatha, Ashla and all these very special people!