If you are diagnosed with AIDS, cancer or any other terminal illness, what next?
How will you and your family fight the disease and the insufferable pain that it brings along for the remaining part of your life?
There comes the concept of palliative care.
In what can be called a token of gratitude or a commitment to society, a Kerala man on his daughter’s wedding day gifted his land to a palliative care unit in his hometown.
Vishnu Namboothiri, from Kozhikode, gave his land and a building worth Rs 30 lakh to Poovat Paramb palliative care unit, which took care of his mother while she was fighting with age-related ailments.
Vishnu’s mother, Unnimaya Antharjanam, was bed-ridden during her last days and wanted to meet people but could not. The palliative unit took immense care of her during the last three months of her life.
The land and the building will now be utilised as a day care centre, reported a Malayalam daily.
These palliative care centres, which are community-based organisations, receive aid from the local residents.
A Poovat Parambu resident M G Praveen, a volunteer who has been working, with such palliative care units for over two decades said that the first meeting to discuss such a unit in his place was held outside Vishnu’s house ten years ago.
“Today the unit visits the houses of 120 bed-ridden patients covering two panchayats,” he said.
Over 10,000 such volunteers work at various care centres across the state. Kerala was the first state to announce a palliative care policy. The government has made it mandatory to have one such unit in each panchayat.
“Care centres are headed by doctors and nurses. The volunteers along with the nurses go to the ailing patients, talk to them and help them with maintaining hygiene. This empathetic care provides relief for them as well as their families. The home care is totally free. Bed-ridden patients usually develop sores on their backs. We help them in dressing such wounds,” said Rajan, volunteer at a palliative care centre in Palakkad.
According to World Health Organization, palliative care is “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.”
In India, only a very less percentage of the population have access to palliative care. Apart from Kerala only a handful of states have come up with a policy on the same.
Vishnu’s gesture in memory of his mother may serve as an inspiration for at least few.