Kochi to host international meet on palliative care

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Kochi, Feb 5 (UNI) Kochi will host the XVth International Conference of the Indian Association of Palliative Care from February eight, focusing on the need to improve pallitive care services in face of rising incidence of diseases such as cancer and AIDS.

Addressing a press conference here, organising secretary of 'Kochipallcon', Dr Biju Raghavan said that palliative care facilities in India were still at a ''primitive stage'' compared to the rest of the world.

Only a handful of hospitals in the country had palliative care departments and few hospices existed for the care of patients in the terminal stages of chronic diseases, cancer and AIDS.

Dr C M Hyderali, president, Consortium of Pain and Palliative Care Units in Ernakulam District, said the three-day conference will be inaugurated on February eight by noted cine star Dileep.

Dr Robert G Twycross, Emeritus Clinical Reader in Palliative Medicine, Oxford University, will deliver the keynote address while Dr Sukdev Nayak, president, Indian Association of Palliative Care, will preside over the function.

Nearly 500 delegates, including from the US, Canada, South Africa, Uganda, UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Asia-Pacific region and the SAARC countries, will participate in the meet, the theme of which is 'Quality and Coverage', he said.

Among the main subjects of discussion will be pain and symptom management from a physical medicine perspective, adjustment disorders in palliative care, role of palliative care in HIV/AIDS, end of life care, withdrawal/withholding of life support and critical care guidelines.

Speaking of the need to sensitise policy makers about the need for palliative care, Dr Biju Raghavan said the Indian government at present did not even recognise palliative care as part of modern medicine. There was a need to incorporate palliative medicine in the under-graduate MBBS course and introduce post-graduate specialised training in pain and palliative medicine.

He said it was a well documented fact that where ever in the world, palliative care had been encouraged, the incidence of euthanasia had come down.

The aim of palliative care was to improve the quality of life of patients battling against terminal illnesses by helping to relieve physical pain, mental stress and emotional distress, he said.

Fr. Varghese K Abraham, treasurer for the conference, said about 120 palliative care units were currently operational in Kerala, which accounted for almost 90 per cent of the total palliative care units in the country.


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