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Of pain and palliative care



BRINGING SUCCOUR: Palliative care to patients is part of curative treatment for cancer.

KOCHI: Palliative care needs to be part of curative treatment. Palliative care was earlier provided only to terminally-ill cancer patients, but now it has come to be exercised in the treatment of many curable diseases, where it relieves the patient of pain.

The concept of palliative care has changed. Says oncologist V.P. Gangadharan: "Palliation of symptoms at any stage is taken up."

However, there is no Government policy to provide palliative care. Pallium India, a registered trust headquartered in Kochi, has taken up as one of its aims interaction with the Government to come up with a Palliation Cure Policy. The Government only has a curative treatment policy.

Functioning since 2003, Pallium India takes up cases projected by various palliative care centres to provide aid to the suffering patient and the family. The trust has a national network and has taken up rehabilitation work for many families.

Rehabilitation activity is one of the major projects of Pallium India, M.R. Rajagopal, chairman, Pallium India and Head of the Pain and Palliative Care, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, says.

Creating public awareness and training a medical and paramedical team for palliative care is another aim of the trust.

Various palliative care centres will stress on the progress of palliative medicine on World Palliative Day on Saturday.

In a bid to create awareness about palliative care, Pallium India has taken up work in places such as Imphal, Aizwal and Lucknow in association with the local palliative care centres.

Dr. Gangadharan has a word of caution though.

He says doctors providing palliative care should have a good idea of other aspects of oncology.

The toxic effect of certain medicines should be considered while providing palliation to a patient with curable disease, he adds.

Even in terminally-ill patients, the aspect of toxicity of medicine is given due consideration, Dr. Rajagopal says. Palliative care when provided along with radiation therapy and chemotherapy can improve the condition of the patient.

At Amrita Hospital, which has a home care programme, a team of care-givers reaches the house of the patient to provide treatment.

The programme involves making visits to the houses of patients, within a 35-km radius, registered at the hospital who are unable to come to get treatment.

It is during these visits by a doctor, nurses, social workers and other paramedical staff that the need of financial aid is assessed and brought to the notice of Pallium India.

In the process of spreading its activities throughout the State, Pallium India has taken up a few cases in Thiruvananthapuram too.

Shyama Rajagopal

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