Patients suffering terminal illness need a system that provides them life till they leave this world. Such a system can be provided with the active participation of society.

These were the views by experts at the workshop on “Palliative Care” on Wednesday. The workshop was organised by the Father Muller Medical College.

Physician R.N. Bhat from the Cynthia Memorial Goretti Hospic in Santhekatte near Udupi said palliative care was what each and every patient should get in a hospital in addition to the treatment. .Emergence of cancer and HIV has brought palliative care to the forefront, he said.

Mr. Bhat, who has been in the medical field for 20 years, said a conclusive analysis about the illness of a patient was mandatory before sending him/her for palliative care. There was a need to identify the symptoms of pain to the core and it should be addressed.

The care should address the concerns, aspirations, and commitment of the patient. “Identify the pain and treat to the best,” he said.

Dr. Bhat stressed that such a care should be provided by the doctors and nurses who have been regularly attending the patient.

Having the same set of doctors and nurses would prevent patient from getting lost. Dr. Bhat emphasised that doctors should in no way let patients know the number of years he would be alive. “The fear of death is more dangerous than the suffering,” he said.

The hospice where he was working has so far treated 270 patients of whom 103 patients have got discharged, he added.

Mohammed Saif, the Manager for National Rural Health Mission-funded project in Palliative Care in Kerala, emphasised the need to involve society in building the support system for palliative care. “At present we are catering to only one per cent of 54 lakh patients who need palliative care,” he said.

Dr. Saif, who works with the Institute of Palliative Medicine in Calicut, said Kerala had started a social movement in palliative care.

Neighbourhood network of trained professionals and volunteers had been set up. The care centres were being run by the local people and expenses were met by people. “We are running the centres on funds collected from small amounts donated by autorickshaw drivers, bus drivers, and others,” he said.

Of the 350 palliative centres in India, 200 were located in Kerala, he added.

The programme was inaugurated by Deputy Commissioner N.S. Channappa Gowda. Director of Ave Maria Palliative Care Unit in Vamajoor Laveena Noronha, Associate Professor in the Father Muller Medical College Smitha Bhat, and Palliative Nurse Specialist from Calicut Medical College Alice Stella Vergenia gave presentations.