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Plans to launch palliative care programme in districts

Patients from far-flung areas in Andhra Pradesh travel to Hyderabad to access the services

With 70 per cent of the two lakh cancer patients diagnosed with cancer every year in the State suffering from advanced stage of the disease and badly needing palliative medicine, plans are afoot to launch a district-based palliative care programme to ensure its reach to a majority of terminally-ill patients.

Currently, palliative care in the State is limited and a dedicated programme is available only at the Mehdi Nawaz Jung Institute of Oncology (MNJIO) here, apart from pain management offered by some private hospitals. Besides, two doctors who were trained here started providing palliative care on their own at Kakinada and Tirupati. Palliative care aims at improving the quality of life of patients suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, paralysis, chronic kidney, heart and liver diseases through treatment of pain and other symptoms. It adopts a holistic approach and seeks to provide emotional, social and spiritual support to the patients and their families. Patients from far-flung areas like Srikakulam are travelling all the way to Hyderabad to access palliative care services at MNJIO through its dedicated programme, which was launched in collaboration with the International Network for Cancer Treatment and Research (INCTR), a not-for-profit NGO to address the problem of cancer in developing countries. The unit at MNJIO has been recognized as a regional centre by the Government of India. “For one 10mg tablet of morphine, which costs just 90 paise, the patients come here all the way. We want to decentralise the programme and we are holding discussions with Aarogyasri Health Care Trust in this regard”, said Dr. Gayatri Palat, programme director, Palliative Care Access India, INCTR.

Lauding the State government for its pro-active approach, she said palliative care has been included in the Aarogyasri programme and regulations were amended to make easy availability of opioid medication for medical use. She said that under the district-based Palliative Care Programme, it was planned to have a dedicated unit in each district hospital after imparting training to doctors and nurses who would man such units. “Every empanelled hospital will have to have palliative care" she added. The INCTR along with MNJIO and Pallium India submitted a draft proposal to the government for introducing a 'Pallative Care Policy for AP', which aims to ensure that palliative care services are integrated into routine health care in the State.



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