‘The caregivers’ suffering remains mute’

Dr. M.R. Rajagopal sheds light on the need for palliative care for women

Updated - October 21, 2019 01:24 am IST

Published - October 21, 2019 01:23 am IST - Mumbai

Wise words: Dr. M.R. Rajagopal delivering a lecture at Tata Memorial Hospital on Saturday.

Wise words: Dr. M.R. Rajagopal delivering a lecture at Tata Memorial Hospital on Saturday.

Padma Shri awardee Dr. M.R. Rajagopal on Saturday discussed how palliative care for women is much needed but ignored today. He was delivering the Ketayun Dinshaw Oration at the Tata Memorial Hospital, on the 17th annual conference of the Women’s Cancer Initiative on Saturday.

According to World Health Organization, palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families, who face problems like life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems.

Dr. Rajagopal, founder chairman of Pallium India, said palliative care is often neglected by doctors, clinicians and patients, which leads to several problems. “We have many high-tech medicines but 98% people do not have access to basic pain relief. It is the duty of the healthcare provider to mitigate the suffering of a patient. The catastrophic non-affordable health expenditure pushes 55 million Indians below poverty line every year. When these people are not able to pay for their medical expenditure, they tend towards ending their own life. India today is at the top of suicide rate list in the world and we also rank 50th among 80 countries for the worst deaths,” he said.

Mr. Rajagopal said many women are abandoned after they are diagnosed with severe illness. These young abandoned women do not have proper shelter or food to eat and are thus hunted by men. “Whether it’s a man or a woman who is ill, it’s the woman who is the caregiver whereas her own suffering remains mute,” he said.

The Padma Shri awardee also touched upon the fact that palliative care is not expensive but still neglected

“We need to be curious about it. Its just the lack of political, professional and social will that stops us from giving the suffering women a better atmosphere,” he said.

Remembering the late Dr. Dinshaw, he said, “Her contribution towards setting up mechanisms to help women suffering from cancer is noteworthy and we will follow her footsteps and try to maximise palliative care for women in the country.”

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