Last month, on the eve of World Hospice & Palliative Care Day, Delhi witnessed the Screening of 'Hippocratic: 18 Experiments in gently Shaping the World' to increase awareness on palliative care and launch of a Civil Society Nation-wide pledge campaign: "SAY NO TO PAIN". This is when intrigued and enlightened by the movie, we decided to know more from Dr. Rajagopal during his recent visits to Delhi.
Dignity in life and in death
"It is an elephant in the room that we can no longer ignore- 55 million people in our country are victims of catastrophic health expenditure every year. Paying for health services pushes them into poverty. Children drop out of school, people lose their jobs and the ripple effect continues long after the patient is gone. India is somewhere near the bottom in the list of countries that have quality health care. But that need not be so. Palliative Care can reach hundreds and thousands of homes at very little cost", says Padma Shri awardee 2018 and Chairman of Pallium India - Dr M.R Rajagopal.
Cankids...Kidscan (National Society for Change for Childhood Cancer in India) and Pallium India (leading national trust for palliative care in the country) came together to host a special event in New Delhi, for the launch of a civil society nation-wide pledge campaign "Say No to Pain" that asks policy makers, health providers, treating doctors and palliative care specialists to bring back quality into healthcare, to keep the patient at the center of healthcare and to ensure the provision of palliative care services in hospitals and in the community.
Painless treatment – not a choice but an effort worth making
"The duty of the health care provider is to mitigate suffering, it is to cure sometimes, relieve often and comfort always", explained Dr Rajagopal. "Even the Indian Council of Medical Research agrees there is no exception to this principle. But today, almost all efforts are aimed at diagnosis and cure. Pain and other illness related suffering; be it physical, social, psychological or spiritual, it is almost completely ignored. When cure is not possible, the patient is either rejected or submitted to aggressive inappropriate treatment which adds to physical, social and emotional distress. "
"It is time that civil society, patients, caregivers, stood up and demanded quality in healthcare where the patient and his family are the focus," said Cancer Survivor Advocate and Chairman Cankids Poonam Bagai. For the 10 million people in India estimated to have serious health related suffering, we aim to collect 100,000 pledges.
Collectively against pain
According to World Health Organisation, "Palliative care is an approach that improves quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life threatening illnesses, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual".
Last month in Delhi, at the screening of the movie, the event began with poster making and an art exhibition on the theme of SayNoToPain by childhood cancer patients, caregivers, survivors and families and was followed by a panel discussion with experts.
'Hippocratic' takes you along Dr. M. R. Rajagopal's journey to make India pain free. The doctor has spoken repeatedly about the importance of compassion and palliative care in reducing suffering of ailing patients, more so of those who already find it impossible to afford the high medical costs of treatment. The event and the day marked a milestone in appreciating and necessitating palliative care. Knowledge is the key here, the more you understand the more you can do for yourself and your dear ones – educate yourself and ease the pain.