BENGALURU: Karnataka became the third state in the country to have a palliative care policy after it was launched here on Tuesday. British physician Dr Robert Twycross, considered the father of palliative care movement, launched the policy.
The plan is to roll out palliative care in Bengaluru, Raichur, Mysuru, Shivamogga, Mangaluru and Kalaburagi including all Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust-empanelled hospitals. This will involve training a team in each district. A palliative care unit in each district hospital will be set up, essential drugs for palliative care including oral morphine will be available at all these centres and efforts to include palliative care in medical, nursing and paramedical curriculum at graduate level is on. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists will be trained by doctors at Kidwai and Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement.
Dr P P Bapsy, president, Bangalore Oncology Group, said, “In 1995, we struggled to get morphine. I’m glad things will change now. Cancer is a notifiable disease in Karnataka now. It banned all forms of tobacco too. We should use the term ‘symptom control’ instead of ‘palliative’ though.”
Dr Robert Twycross, Emeritus Clinical Reader, palliative medicine, Oxford University, said, “Palliative care improved survival by three months in Europe. Palliative care is not just about giving morphine.” It takes care of physical, psychological, social and emotional well being of the patient as well as their family.
Dr K B Lingegowda, director, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, “I am from a rural area and I have seen the suffering of patients personally. Kidwai is the fifth best in the country competing with private hospitals and the first centre to provide oral morphine.
Last year, the centre saw a consumption of 13 kg. In 1969, Kidwai started a palliative care centre. Amendment of NDPS Act, starting of MD course are major milestones in palliative care in the country. It is currently not included in medical or nursing curriculum. Though initially it was meant only for cancer patients, we now provide palliative care for patients suffering from renal diseases, HIV, etc.”
Health Minister K R Ramesh Kumar said, “Family systems are getting weakened and becoming materialistic. Parents grow older and get into old age homes with flourishing children around. Imagine their plight with ailments like cancer. Doesn’t it reflect on our standard of civilisation? We distance ourselves. They don’t get minimum affection. Anything done in this direction is welcome.”
“Treatment is secondary. Doctors who can’t smile should get into real estate,” he quipped.
Medical Education Minister Sharan Prakash Patil said, “The decision to extend palliative care to all centres is a big leap. Palliative care is about how to live with dignity. Not just the patient, even the family needs to be prepared. In rural areas, taluk areas and district hospitals, it’s important. Curriculum, though, is framed by the Medical Council of India. I will write to MCI to include it and vice-chancellor of RGUHS to start an MD course.”