Palliative care was not just a part of medical profession, it was essentially a humanitarian service.

Palliative care should be made an integral part of patient care and made available in all hospitals, at least at the district level, Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony has said.

He was inaugurating a function organised here on Wednesday by Pallium India to make the formal announcement of its Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences (TIPS) being designated as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Training and Policy on Access to Pain Relief.

The private sector hospital industry had been growing and palliative care was something they should also offer as a significant section of the population depended on private sector for their healthcare needs, Mr. Antony said.

Care for the elderly had been coming down in families of late. In nuclear families of the day, the priority was always for children, while the needs and concerns of the elderly seemed to be getting less and less attention. Even in families with ample financial resources, virtues like compassion, empathy, and kindness were all disappearing, which is reflected in the way the elderly were being treated, Mr. Antony said.

The number of those with terminal illnesses who required compassionate end-of-life care was growing, a problem which should be addressed, he said.

Palliative care was not just a part of medical profession, it was essentially a humanitarian service.

More people should try to get involved in palliative care services and devote at least a small part of their lives for the service of the less-fortunate beings around them, Mr. Antony appealed.

Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar, who presided over the function, promised that in-patient facility would soon be made available to Pallium India within the government hospital network. The Health Department was interested in initiating schemes involving its huge network of health field staff in palliative care services, especially in providing home care service to those suffering from terminal illnesses at the grassroots.

Pallium India chairman M.R. Rajagopal said palliative care was much misunderstood, that it concerned only those suffering from the pain of cancer.

But palliative care was relevant whenever an individual suffered from life-limiting diseases.

Dr. Rajagopal said as a WHO collaborating centre, TIPS would explore the role it could play in encouraging policy changes in health systems to provide better pain relief to patients.

Corporation Mayor K. Chandrika; A. Sampath, MP; and P.K. Venugopal were among those who spoke on the occasion.

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