Inequity in access to essential pain relief and palliative care is one of the world’s most striking injustices, says Lancet study.
The Lancet commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief which included 61 authors from 25 countries, has published their report ahead of world palliative care day which falls on 14 October 2017. Of the 6 crores of people worldwide who need palliative care, 1/6th, that is one crore, are in India. Only a tiny minority of them has access to basic pain relief or palliative care.
Though the government of India announced a national program for palliative care in 2012, the budget allocation has been grossly inadequate and progress in the last five years is negligible. The Indian Parliament changed its draconian Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, a major hindrance to access to pain relief, in 2014; but even today most Indian states have not implemented it. And sadly, basic pain management and principles of palliative care are even now not taught to medical and nursing students.
The theme of world palliative care day 2017 exhorts, “Don’t leave those suffering behind”. “People with advanced illness and pain are weakened by disease; they have no voice. Only a public outcry against the injustice done to them can save the situation”, says Dr.M.R.Rajagopal, the chairman of Pallium India who is one of the five lead authors of the Lancet report.