THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Going by statistics, only 10 to 15 per cent of people have sudden deaths. The rest go through painful days prior to death and need to be prepared to face death naturally. But only a few (literally a minority) accept that death is a natural phenomenon. Preparing them to accept death is a difficult task. Even the most educated and social beings fail to accept the reality and the duty lies with the palliative care team.
“Making the patients accept that death is a natural phenomenon is the most difficult part of the job. There is a social as well as emotional pressure that insists on taking the patient through all the available technology in the medical field, before he/she dies. Neither the patient nor relatives seek the outcome of a treatment and the doctors hardly tell them,” says Institute of Palliative Medicine director Dr Suresh Kumar, who was presented with the Quasi Foundation Award the other day, considering his contribution to the field of palliative medicine.
Ending his three-year-service in anesthesia medication and shifting to palliative care was purely a professional choice for Dr Suresh Kumar, but he says the doctors will have to forget their economic preferences before going for palliative care. The salary is almost half of what is being paid to their contemporaries in hospitals outside. The only advantage is gaining skills in controlling difficult symptoms and emotional issues, apart from a social commitment.
Started in 1993, the institute got a major leap in 1999 when the Neighbourhood Networking Palliative Care programme was introduced and the government introduced a palliative care policy in 2008.
Now, branched into 1,200 units and eight mobile units (one offering round-the-clock service), the institute’s training programmes are well-accepted abroad also. Training programmes are being offered in Bangladesh, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
The round-the-clock service makes Kozhikode the only city in Asia in this regard.