Palliative Care

Published on - November 24, 2021

Issues related to Vulnerable Sections

Source: The Economic Times

Context:

The author talks about the need for responsive & robust palliative care in India.

 

Editorial Insights:

What's the issue?

Palliative care in India has been the most ignored area of medical care, nothing concrete has changed in palliative care of India.

Palliative Care:

As per WHO Palliative Care is the total active care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment.

Control of pain, other symptoms & psychological, social & spiritual problems are paramount.

The main goal of Palliative Care is the achievement of the best possible quality of life for patients & their families.

 

Palliative Care in India:

  • In India, Palliative care is non-existent at the grassroots.
  • The need for Palliative care has never been greater because,
  • There is a lack of trained personnel,
  • Restricted access to opioids for pain control,
  • Refusal to accept that the process of dying rather than against it.
  • Non-communicable diseases like cancer are on the rise.
  • At present, India has 3 million people with cancer at any given time.

Of these, 75-80% come with advanced disease & half of them die within a year & yet not more than 2% receive palliative care because:

  • The paucity of services, 
  • The reluctance of people to get timely check-ups during the pandemic.
  • The number of people presenting with advanced cancers in the coming days is likely to swell.

 

What needs to be done?

  • Patient autonomy in palliative care needs to be respected.
  • Society must move from a death-denying society to death accepting one.
  • The need is to have an interdisciplinary team of healthcare professionals who are sensitive & good listeners as well as excellent communicators & team players.
  • There is a need for the treating specialist to continue to be involved rather than cutting off relations with patients once treatment fails.

 

Concluding remarks:

The need of the hour is that not only should patients be referred to the palliative care team early to ensure a better quality of life, but the continued survival & safety of members of the family left behind are also to be taken care of.