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Seminar on religion and terminal illness

Special Correspondent

It explores the role of spirituality in healthcare

— PHOTO: S.R. RAGHUNATHAN

Social Welfare Minister P. Geetha Jeevan in discussion with former Director of Christian Medical College, Vellore, George M. Chandy (left), at a seminar organised at the University of Madras on Thursday. The University’s Registrar-in-charge P. Duraisamy is in the picture.

CHENNAI: A two day seminar on religion and terminal illness that began here on Thursday explores the role of spirituality in providing better and holistic care. According to the participants of the seminar, being organised by the Department of Christian Studies, University of Madras, ‘terminal illness’ does not mean end-of-life but it provides an opportunity to the caregiver and the patient to be equipped and face disability caused by a disease.

Oncologists, palliative care experts and social scientists analysed the various aspects including the impact of socio-economic and cultural factors, struggles and coping strategies of patients and caregivers.

George M. Chandy, professor of gastroenterology and former Director of Christian Medical College, Vellore, in his keynote address dwelt on his experiences as a medical practitioner and a caregiver. He recalled instances from his experiences with patients and relatives who could not come to terms with their ailments. Patients go through a period of denial, aggression, entertainment, withdrawal and acceptance. A terminal ill person has low self-esteem, suffers loss of confidence and fears the unknown. It is these problems that palliative care addresses, he explained.

Social Welfare Minister P. Geetha Jeevan, who inaugurated the seminar, urged non-governmental organisations to create more awareness about government healthcare schemes. It was the NGOs, who helped spread awareness about the supply of anti-retroviral drugs for persons with HIV/AIDS, she said.

P. Duraisamy, Registrar in-charge of the University, congratulated the department in taking up issues of critical importance.

The seminar, he observed, would dwell on the experience of the medical practitioners and their ability to help those terminally ill.

Head of the Christian Studies G. Patrick said currently two research scholars were doing research on the role of religion and terminal illness.

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