What is palliative care & Is it needed in India?

Palliative care is the branch of medicine that focuses on improving the quality of life and preventing the suffering of people with life-limiting illnesses. The aim is to identify patients at risk of excessive therapy at the cost of quality of life and financial burden on the family. It is often misconstrued as end-of-life care. However, palliative care aims at improving the quality of life by addressing the physical, psychological, spiritual and social areas of health of people suffering from life-limiting diseases such as heart failure, kidney failure, certain neurological diseases, cancer etc.

Need for Palliative Care

Palliative care in India is largely available at tertiary health facilities in urban areas. Due to this disproportionate availability of services, only 1-2% of the estimated 7-10 million people in the country who need them have access.

According to Aju Mathew, a medical oncologist in Kerala, 7 out of 10 patients he sees daily require palliative care.

After independence, India has made a lot of efforts to improve the health of its people. The three-tier health system, several national health programs and schemes, and the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme are all positive steps towards universal health coverage. But despite these efforts, 55 million people are pushed below the poverty line in India every year due to health-related expenses. Excessive medicalization plays a significant role in this financial burden.

Source – The Hindu

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