How health patients can benefit from Palliative Care
Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Feb. 23: About 80% of cancer patients in India are admitted to palliative care (PC) when the patient is at stage-4, while PC is needed the moment a patient walks in for treatment with any life-threatening illness. The reason is, palliative care is to improve the quality of life of patients and their families no matter the nature of the disease they encounter, Gilly Burns, director of Care Response International, and the founder-director of Care Relief India.
Burns was addressing a continuing medical education (CME) program on palliative care that was organised by Eden Medical Centre in association with the Indian Medical Association, on Sat. Feb. 23 at the centre’s premise in Dimapur.
Burns has received lifetime achievement awards for her contribution to the development of palliative care services in India.
Drawing attention to India’s perspective to PC, Burns said there was a need for more competent doctors and nurses; compassionate doctors and nurses are essential in this field. The need, she said, was because of lack of communication between patients and heath care workers.
PC improves the quality of life for the patients and their families alike. It is why PC is also called supportive care. Burns called supportive palliative care to be a basic human right. Communication is the key to compassionate care, she said.
Dr. Dinesh Chandra Goswami, Nitghtingale Hospital’s consultant anaesthesiologist and secretary of pain and palliative society at Guwahati reported that chronic pain affects 30-50% of the world population while four out of every five people in the world do not have access to pain control.
“3.6 million people will die with untreated pain from cancer and HIV this year,” Goswami maintained. Each year an estimated 40 million people are in need of palliative care whereas 78% live in low and middle income countries; and worldwide only 14% of people who need palliative care currently receive it, Goswami said.
“Palliative care is not about death—it is about life before death. Not all diseases can be cured but that does not mean there is nothing to be done for patients suffering from incurable diseases,” Goswami told the health care workers there.
“Discussion with patients approaching the end of their life cannot be avoided; contact with palliative care specialist does not mean that death is imminent.”
Goswami is also a firm advocator of palliative care. She expressed belief that communication was essential approach. He urged the health care workers to be an agent of change by practising communication, compassion and competence towards health patients.