The District Cancer Centre (DCC) at Kozhencherry is making much headway in palliative care, drawing the attention of health agencies at the national and international level.
Established as a subsidiary of the Regional Cancer Centre under the National Cancer Control Programme in October, 1999, the Pathanamthitta centre has been identified as a model project by the World Health Organisation (WHO) five years ago.
The Mobile Pain and Palliative Care Unit launched by the centre in its 10th year of service has been doing a praiseworthy service since the past few months.
The four-member mobile unit led by K.G. Sasidharan Pillai, centre director, has been extending palliative care to as many as 167 poor terminally-ill patients in different parts of the district every week. Aelamma, senior staff nurse, Soumya, staff nurse, and Hanson, helper, are the other members of the unit.
The unit visits patients registered with it every week. Bed-ridden patients are given palliative chemotherapy and other treatment free of cost. The centre is run by the District Cancer Centre Society (DCCS) chaired by District Collector. The centre attached to the District Hospital complex at Kozhencherry was one among the five centres opened in the State 10 years ago.
The centre has recently introduced a scheme to extend monetary assistance to poor terminally-ill patients. The society has deposited Rs.25 lakh as fixed deposit to make use of its monthly interest worth Rs.15,580 for disbursing an endowment of Rs.300 each among 50 terminally-ill patients every month.
Dr. Pillai says the endowment is for the patients to meet their incidental expenses like food, milk, etc. It is noteworthy that both the WHO and the Union Ministry of Health have recommended implementation of the ‘Kozhencherry-model' in all other districts too.
According to Dr. Pillai, as many as 68,386 persons have been screened at 226 cancer detection camps organised by the centre in different parts of the district during the past 10 years. As many as 428 new cases have been detected, besides providing follow-up care to 3,498 patients and palliative care to 1,372 terminally-ill patients during the period, he says.
Almost all the terminally-ill patients attended by the mobile unit are elderly people. ‘‘The very sight of the doctor and his team is a solace to me and I feel my pain is relieved a little bit during their weekly visits,'' said a woman patient.
The DCC mobile unit team has been doing the duty without claiming any special incentive, taking it a service to society, said Dr. Pillai.