Special Correspondent

Pain and Palliative Care involved in the project

Training of volunteers from January 15Project to be launched on April 1Mayor's appeal to service-minded people

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. There is no restriction in their age or educational qualification.

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.

There would be three days of theory classes and four days of clinical training for the volunteers. 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 entry of Corporation into the area of palliative care marks a significant step towards ensuring participation of local governments in providing free palliative care to patients in advanced stage of cancer, AIDS and similar diseases.

This is already happening in a big way in a number of countries. 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 that envisages free healthcare to the maximum number of poor patients with minimum resources.

Malappuram district has also emerged as a shining example in this endeavour. It has a neighbourhood network in palliative care (NNPC) in which a large number of dedicated volunteers and the local government of the area play a key role.

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.

The Corporation would provide a vehicle for doctors, paramedical staff and the volunteers to visit patients in their homes. Already nearly 300 patients who required palliative care had been identified within the Corporation area.

More patients would get the benefit of the programmes in the days ahead. The Corporation would have to spend nearly Rs.3 lakhs every year by a rough estimate, besides the cost of operating a vehicle and to provide essential services.

Suresh Kumar of Pain and Palliative Care Clinic welcomed the Corporation's initiative to provide free palliative care "since it is basically the responsibility of the Government to take care of terminally-ill patients."