There are only two WHOCCs in the country in the area of palliative care, both of which are in Kerala.

The formal inauguration of Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences (TIPS), the pain and palliative care unit of Pallium India, as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre (WHOCC) for Training and Policy on Access to Pain Relief, will be held in the capital on Wednesday.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony will inaugurate the function, which will be presided over by Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, chairman of Pallium India M.R. Rajagopal said that the designation of TIPS as a WHO collaborating centre was in acknowledgement of the work done by the organisation in promoting palliative care services and raising awareness among the public about it.

There are only two WHOCCs in the country in the area of palliative care, both of which are in Kerala. The Institute of Palliative Medicine in Kozhikode is WHO’s collaborating centre in the area of community participation in palliative care, while TIPS’ expertise has been acknowledged in the area of training.

More than 99 per cent of those who suffer from chronic diseases in the country still have no access to pain relief because oral morphine is still not available in a majority of government or private hospitals. The palliative care services network in the country has, over the past several years, managed to simplify narcotic regulations in 14 States so that morphine is available for pain relief to patients.

Kerala has gone way ahead of other States and has in fact been a model for the rest of the country, in the manner in which it has taken palliative care to the centre of patient care. At least 100 institutions, mostly non-governmental, stock and dispense oral morphine to be used at home. At least three medical colleges in the State impart education in pain management and palliative care. Kerala is also the only State to have formulated a Palliative Care Policy, Dr. Rajagopal pointed out.

TIPS delivers its patient care services from a space provided by S.U.T Royal Hospital at Kochulloor in the city. It currently works with seven volunteer-led community-based organisations providing palliative care services; encourages the formation of more volunteer networks in the field; and conducts several training programmes for doctors, nurses and volunteers in palliative care. It also offers home visits to patients twice a week.