Special correspondent

KOZHIKODE: A palliative care programme to provide free health care to terminally-ill patients afflicted with cancer, AIDS and other painful diseases is being initiated by Corporation of Kozhikode.

The project is being implemented in association with the Pain and Palliative Care functioning from the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. The clinic has already emerged as a model for such health care in Third World countries.

The Corporation's project will begin with a training programme for volunteers on January 15 which is observed as Palliative Care Day the world over.

Mayor M. Bhaskaran has appealed to service-minded members of the community to enrol as volunteers in the project. Volunteers can be from any strata of society. But the volunteer should be able to spare at least two hours a week or one day a month for attending to the patients without remuneration. Besides providing basic medical assistance, they would also be called upon to do counselling for both to the patients and members of the patient's family.

Those willing to serve as volunteers should report at the office of the chairman of the Corporation standing committee for health before January 12. Other NGOs would also be allowed to participate in this programme.

"Community participation holds the key to the success of palliative care programmes," Suresh Kumar, consultant at Pain and Palliative Care Clinic, remarked.

The Pain and Palliative Care Clinic in Kozhikode has been giving palliative care free of cost to patients for nearly a decade.

It has also established satellite centres in a number of other districts, winning worldwide acclaim for its palliative care management strategy. Malappuram district has also emerged as a shining example in this endeavour. Speaking to The Hindu, P.T. Rajan, chairman of the Corporation's standing committee for health, said the project would be launched on April 1 after training programmes for volunteers were completed.