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World Health Organisation lauds Kerala for palliative care model

World Health Organisation (WHO) in a recent report lauded Kerala and Telangana for their exemplary palliative care model. The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

World Health Organisation lauds Kerala for palliative care model anr
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First Published Feb 2, 2024, 9:45 AM IST

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has praised Kerala and Telangana for their exemplary palliative care model — a specialised healthcare approach focusing on alleviating symptoms and stress related to serious illnesses. Palliative care experts from Southeast Asia presented the WHO report "Expanding Availability and Access to Palliative Care," which specifically praises Telangana's cooperative efforts between the state government and civil society organisations and Kerala's community-driven palliative care initiatives.

Regardless of age or stage of illness, the goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. It can be given in addition to treatments aimed at curing or prolonging life.

The WHO states that for palliative care policies to be successfully implemented, they must be adapted to local needs, taking into account clinical and cultural factors, and they must also be realistic, workable, and acceptable.

The WHO report states, “National and subnational-level policies can also be crucial in expanding palliative care, such as that seen in Kerala state in India. Policies should identify palliative care as the responsibility of primary care clinicians, as well as specialists in many disciplines. The bottom-up approach in Kerala, India, where palliative care programmes have been integrated with community participation demonstrates a highly successful model.”

“Volunteerism is a powerful way to increase access to palliative care, the means to ensure it varies from place to place. Technological innovations facilitate the delivery of services. The use of smartphones for teleconsultation is a simple but widely used example. This can be leveraged further,” the WHO report said.

The Pain and Palliative Care Society in Kerala marked the beginning of the palliative care movement in Kerala, which expanded quickly with the establishment of Neighbourhood Networks in Palliative Care (NNPCs), which offer home-based palliative care services.

Kerala became the first Indian state to implement a comprehensive palliative care policy in 2008. With the successful implementation of this legislation, the state has created what is largely considered to be the best community-based palliative care model in the nation. In 2019, a revised Palliative Care Policy was released, drawing on more than ten years of experience.

“There are structured home visits conducted by a team led by a trained community nurse, supported by ASHA workers, LSG members, PHC field staff, and volunteers. The Medical Officer of the health institution oversees the project, staying informed about each patient through the community nurse,” said the District Medical Officer (DMO) of Kerala to South First.

“More than 50,000 trained volunteers participate in palliative care activities, working in association with the government and NGOs,” the DMO said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) commends Telangana for the effective partnership between the government and civil service organisations (CSOs) in improving palliative care services in the Indian state. This alliance is a good example of how the government and CSOs can work together.

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