Benefits of Palliative care: Learning from Kerala’s success

Original Publishing Date: March 15, 2020
Publisher: The Hindu
Author: Rohan Manoj

“You can’t treat terminal illnesses or dying stages as an exclusively medical issue. The community-based model, with institutions playing a supporting role, is the only way forward.”

Palliative care is not just the responsibility of health institutions. A community can come together to help people suffering from a terminal illness. Patients with serious illnesses or dying stages cannot stay in hospitals forever.

Their condition should not be treated just as a medical issue. They need care and support from the community too.
Kerala has successfully used the community- based model to provide palliative care. Around 500 people help to bring happiness and comfort to patients. Many students also come to lend a hand and are also trained in the Institute of Palliative Medicine in Kozhikode.

“Some volunteers have personal stories of caring for a friend or relative which motivated them to sign up, but others simply work because they see it as a community initiative.

People who came forward to help said that regularly interacting with patients kept them inspired to continue their service. Thousands of such volunteers have been trained over the years. Many of them also started independent palliative care units of their own and worked with other countries too.

“There’s a difference in the models. In Kerala, there’s so much involvement from the public, from civil society.”

Dr. Suresh Kumar was instrumental in training volunteers and moving from an institutional, hospital-based approach led by doctors, to one which emphasized local, community-based care.

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