Efforts by Pallium India and its sister organizations to ensure ‘End of Life Care’ entitlements of terminally patients has resulted in the Medical council of India drafting the Living Will called “My living will and attorney authorization” that could be invoked at the appropriate time upon fulfillment of the conditions laid down therein. These efforts also lead to the Govt of India introducing the draft law covering “medical treatment of terminally ill patients”. The Bill is intended to provide for the protection of patients and medical practitioners from liability in the context of withholding or withdrawing medical treatment including life support systems from patients who are terminally ill.
At the initiative of Pallium India and other sister organizations, Its recognition as a Human Right has resulted in far reaching measures being taken by the Government to improve the availability of these services in Hospitals and Public Health Centers by increased staffing of expert Doctors and nurses, increasing access to pain relief by the stocking up of Morphine and similar Opioids.
As defined by WHO (World Health Organisation) Palliative care involves “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems physical, psychosocial and spiritual”.
How it helps-
- Ensures relief from pain and other factors causing distress.
- By facilitating the human right to live with dignity and die with dignity.
- By recognizing life and dying as a normal process and obviate the hastening or postponement of death.
- By combining the psycho spiritual aspects of patient care.
- Facilitates a support system that ensures that the patient lives as healthy as possible and that the family copes with the illness and in their own bereavement.
- Will help improve the quality of life that may in turn help the patient find relief from his/her illness.
- It involves a team approach to address the needs of patients and their families and this includes bereavement counseling.
- Palliative care is not a terminal care or that meant only for the dying. It is not given in isolation but complements other therapies such as radiation and chemo therapy aimed at prolonging life and improve the quality of life.
There have been more than twenty-five publications contributed by Pallium India in various scientific journals apart from similar contributions in text books or chapters in various text books.
Pallium India’s work has been featured in many international newspapers and other media including New York Times, BBC, Nature Outlook and so on. A few of them which will bear testimony to their work are:
- In India: A quest to ease the pain of the dying. The New York Times, 2007. Link
- Why Kerala is the best place in India to die. BBC.Link
- Palliative care: the other opioid use. Nature Outlook. Link
- The extraordinary Indian: the doctor who makes a difference. Rediff.com report. Link
- How do you treat pain when most of the world cannot get opioids: Link
Presently, Palliative care services are available in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkand, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshwadeep, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, New Delhi, Orissa, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Telengana, Tripura, Uttar Aanchal, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal.
Pallium India was largely instrumental in providing the expertise and training in setting up palliative care service units in these states.