As Kerala is set to launch its palliative care grid, health experts allege that Maha lags behind

The government of Kerala will soon set up a palliative care grid across the state. Kerala’s health minister KK Shylaja Teacher announced this on Tuesday, October 29. The prime aim of the state is to provide coordinated palliative care services to those who are in dire needs

Low quality healthcare increasing burden of illness and health cost

In 2013, the Maharashtra government had announced its ambitious palliative care program, to improve the quality of life of those patients who are suffering from life-limiting conditions. Since 2016, the palliative care units have been active in the state. The government had planned to start a palliative care unit in 17 government hospitals in the first phase.

But, according to health experts, inadequate training facility and staff crunch are the major obstacles which the government is facing to run the unit. And the program is yet to kick start effectively.

Associate Program Director Pouruchisti Wadia, of Romila Palliative Care centre (SNEHA) while speaking to My Medical Mantra said, “It is indeed a welcome step that the government of Kerala is in process of setting up palliative care grid. If you consider the Maharashtra Palliative Care Policy, it came in to force in 2013, but, in terms of implementation, it has a long way to go. There is a general lack of awareness about palliative care. One of the main obstacles is the absence of trained health care providers.”

Pouruchisti adds that the members of the Mumbai Palliative Care Network have jointly prepared a two-year action plan (detailing the short term objectives) for the implementation of the palliative care policy in Maharashtra in collaboration with the Public Health Department, Maharashtra. Training of key stakeholders is an important aspect of this plan. Currently, we are in the process of finalizing the training modules for the same.

“There is complete apathy on part of the government when it comes to effective implementation of the palliative care policy. The government had announced a palliative care unit in all government hospitals. But, very few hospitals have a working palliative care unit. Tata Memorial Hospital has been trying to advocate for the access of palliative care to the needy for a decade. A GR had been issued in 2013 but there is no implementation. So, ‘Mumbai Palliative Care Network’ has submitted a proposal to the government for effective implementation of the palliative care delivery in Maharashtra,” stated Dr Pradnya Talwadekar, coordinator of Child Palliative Care Centre at Tata Memorial Hospital.

Over the past three years, palliative care units have delivered services to more than 10,000 patients in the government hospitals and more than three thousand patients have received home-based care under the program. But, health activists allege that after six years, the programme is yet to take off in all the districts.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra Dr Abijit Ahire, Program officer, Palliative care unit, Health Services Maharashtra said, “Initially the plan was to start palliative care units in 17 district hospitals. But, due to staff shortage, currently, the programme has been operationalised in a few hospitals. We have a six-member team a doctor, four nurses and a multitasking staff to deliver palliative care facility to the patients. The state is also providing home bases palliative care facility. Soon, we will launch the programme in rest of the districts.”