Mayor K. Chandrika inaugurated a free palliative care scheme, part of the People’s Plan of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, for those afflicted with chronic illnesses and unable to afford home nurses and other forms of support.

The function, held at Government Fort Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, on Thursday, was presided over by Health Standing Committee Chairperson S. Pushpalatha.

“Too often, development is equated with construction of roads, bridges and infrastructural growth. Other sectors deserve equal attention and we have accorded high priority to this programme,” said the Mayor. Patients rendered incapacitated by illnesses such as cancer or paralysis caused by an accident required much care and attention.

“Those who cannot afford treatment at private hospitals and employ home nurses are in dire need of a support system,” said Ms. Chandrika. She said the palliative care units would initially focus on coastal regions, which are financially backward in comparison.

Five hospitals

Ms. Pushpalatha said that two volunteers from each ward had been trained to visit homes of the ailing. The ward councillors had been briefed on the project. Five government hospitals in the Corporation limits — Fort, Kadakampally, Nemom, Poonthura, and Peroorkada — would serve as the base centres of the Rs.20-lakh scheme. Once in two weeks, medical supplies would be provided through these hospitals, which would also train the volunteers.

The Mayor said that the Corporation intended to provide greater impetus to medical camps and public awareness workshops to keep lifestyle diseases in check. “It is now possible to detect cancer much earlier,” she said, stressing that the mortality rate, particularly in the case of breast cancer, could be significantly reduced thus.

National Rural Health Mission (NHRM) District Programme Manager B. Unnikrishnan promised complete support for the implementation of this scheme by deploying ASHA workers (under the purview of NHRM) to participate in it.