Even though, the state lacks a palliative care policy, the State Health Department has recently announced that palliative care will be offered at all the government hospitals. Inadequate palliative care has led to the miserable condition of the people who are suffering from life threatening diseases. Palliative care aims at improving the lives of patients and their families, who are suffering from life-threatening illness by reducing the pain and aiding through physical and psychological problems for all age groups. World Health Organization (WHO) has brought up a global solution to this problem.

WHO will improve the access to palliative care as a specific part of national health systems, with home based primary health care. But India does not have a unique palliative care policy and it just remains a part of National Rural Health Mission.

Dr Suresh, director, WHO collaborating center said "A policy was formulated for palliative care in the country about five years ago, but no provisions have been made under the policy as there was no fund allocation. Training of staff and doctors is a very important factor of palliative care, but owing to lack of funds it could not be implemented properly."

He further said only 0.72 people receive palliative care on an average among the population of one million afflicted. Therefore, states should initiate independent programs and policies on palliative care.

Kerala, the neighboring state has a live model of palliative care where volunteers from the local community are trained to identify such problems and help the individual. Attempts of health department in Tamil Nadu to launch a state policy have been made only on paper.

Preetha Mahesh, secretary, Chennai Pain and Palliative care said "Palliative care is needed to address practical needs and provide counseling for people suffering from various diseases prevalent in the State such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic liver disease, respiratory diseases, AIDS, diabetes, kidney failure, arthritis, neurological disease, dementia, congenital anomalies and tuberculosis."

She also said that a community-based primary healthcare system using local manpower, adequate funds and resources is necessary for the implementation of policy on palliative care.

When the health department was contacted officials said the process is underway. "The state is initially planning to start palliative care services in 11 districts, where palliative care will be offered after training of doctors and staff. The policy will be initiated after the program is extended to other districts after its implementation in listed districts," the official said.

Psychiatrist Dr Vivian Kapil said "Children suffering from illnesses that range from HIV to cancer are deprived of palliative care and a distinct methodology has to be followed for their palliative care. There is no universal method to track paediatric palliative care that worsens the situation and only one percent children receive palliative care."

He further added that communicating with the child involves understanding cognitive, emotional development of the child at an age when he is unaware of disease. Adults can accept death after a point of time, but it becomes difficult for children. – NDTV 


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