Number of patients registered in care service is about 6,000

A huge demand for pain and palliative care service remains unmet as is revealed under the ongoing programme of Pain and Palliative Care Service by the District Panchayat. The programme has technical support of the National Rural Health Mission and the District Health.

The programme is on in 37 out of the 84 panchayats and the numbers of patients registered is about 6,000. Of these, about 3,000 patients need at least a weekly follow-up programme and about 800 are patients with urine catheters.

Of those registered under the programme, about 30 per cent are paraplegics and another 30 per cent are elderly people who are dependent on another person for meeting their daily needs. There are about 20-30 per cent people who are terminally ill cancer patients; others include mentally and physically challenged persons.

According to the district co-ordinator for the programme under the NRHM, the cancer patients are registered by the relatives only when they are out of all other treatment modules. While the panchayats have been providing Rs. 2.5 lakh upwards for the palliative care programme as part of the government initiative that started in 2008, so far the service providers have been able to meet only the basic care for the patients.

For patients who need to see a doctor, the team also makes a reference to the nearest PHC or the secondary care taluk hospital as the need be.

A team comprising a trained nurse or an auxiliary nurse along with either a health inspector or junior health inspector or junior public health nurse attached to the Primary Health Centre and a community volunteer that could be from Kudumbashree or ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) or the ward member or member of any NGO working in the field goes to the patient to enquire about their general health. The bystanders are given basic training to meet their daily needs as well.

Palliative care is also done by a dedicated team from the General Hospital in a mobile unit that provides need-based home care to 380 patients. Besides being a tertiary care centre for such patients, the hospital is also a training centre for doctors, nurses and volunteers engaged in palliative care.

There is also a consortium of private hospitals under the organisation Pallium India that is providing palliative care to patients.

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