Dr. M. R.Rajagopal is one of the founders of Pain and Palliative Care Society (PPCS) in Medical College, Calicut, in 1993. In 1995, PPCS was recognized as a model demonstration project by the World Health Organisation, known for its suitability to the socio-cultural needs of the country, for its novel training programs and for its roots in the community. Over ten years, it developed into the biggest Palliative Care Centre in the country incorporating a major “Institute of Palliative Medicine” (IPM), with more than 60 link centres in various parts of Kerala.
Since 1996, Rajagopal has been working with the WHO Collaborating Center at Madison-Wisconsin and with the Government of India to improve opioid availability in India. The work has so far resulted in simplification of narcotic regulations in 13 states in India as well as in uninterrupted availability of oral morphine from the Government Opium and Alkaloid factories in India.In 2003, he with his 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 2016, the organization reached 21 of India’s 29 states. In 2006, Pallium India created the Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences as its training, research and clinical demonstration unit. In 2012, this was declared a WHO Collaborating Centre.
Rajagopal was a prime mover in the development of the document, “National Standards for Palliative Care in India” in 2006-2008.
He was also the prime mover in the creation of the National Program for Palliative Care (NPPC) by the Ministry of Health of Government of India in 2012.
Dr. Rajagopal is one of the five lead authors of the Lancet Commission report published in October 2017, which pointed out that more than 61 million people live in pain and suffering worldwide every year without access to palliative care. The report describes a possible global strategy for correction in this huge inequity in care and suggests a low-cost essential package which could remedy the situation.
Rajagopal’s contribution has been significant in bringing the Parliament of India to amend the draconian Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985. The Amendment was passed in 2014 Feb.
In 2014, Rajagopal was honored by Human Rights Watch with the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism,in recognition of his tireless efforts to defend the right of patients to live and die with dignity.In 2017, Rajagopal was named one of the 30 most influential leaders in hospice and palliative medicine by American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM).
A documentary film based on Dr M R Rajagopal’s life, titled “Hippocratic: 18 Experiments in Gently Shaking the World” was released by Moonshine Agency, Australia, on World Palliative Care Day, October 14 2017.
In 2018, the Indian Government honored Dr M. R. Rajagopal with the Padma Shri award.