Hyderabad: In a significant step towards providing care and support to end-stage cancer and HIV patients in Telangana, health authorities have added eight more palliative care centres in districts during the last three to four months. This is not all, as measures are in place to ensure that every district in the State has its own stand-alone State-run palliative care centre within a year.
Moreover, for the first time in the country, seven of the eight palliative care centres are set to get recognition from regulatory authorities to store and distribute medical morphine, which is a vital cog in the success of any palliative care programme. Till recently, end-stage cancer and HIV patients from economically weak sections have struggled to access healthcare facilities that focus on reducing physical pain and allow them to live last stages of life with dignity.
Realising this, health authorities had decided to collaborate with National Programme for Palliative Care (NPPC) and Pain Relief and Palliative Care Society (PRPCS) to start these exclusive facilities. In the first week of October, exclusive palliative care facilities were inaugurated in the local area and district hospitals of Adilabad and Khammam. In the last five months, similar palliative care facilities with eight to 10 beds have been set-up at Choutuppal, Yadadri district, Chevella in Rangareddy district, Mahabubnagar, Gajwel, Jangaon and another in Warangal.
“Very quickly, Telangana has become the leading State in the country to provide best palliative care facilities. In fact, this model of collaborating with MOHFW and voluntary organisations has set an example for other States to emulate,” said Dr Gayatri Palat, consultant, Pain and Palliative Care Centre, MNJ Hospital. Care givers, including doctors, nurses, paramedic staff and class IV employees, who manage these palliative care facilities have received extensive training for over six weeks from national faculty on palliative care studies at MNJ Cancer Hospital.
The operational model of each palliative care facility makes it mandatory for the local healthcare workers to make field visits to identify cancer and HIV patients needing palliative care. Field-level workers, during their daily visits, register anywhere between 12 and 15 patients with such needs. Their details are recorded and depending on their medical condition treatment is given.
Till now, MNJ Cancer Hospital was the only research institute in the entire catchment area, including AP, with permission to store and distribute medical morphine. “Because now we have trained medical personnel and infrastructure at palliative care centres, medical morphine will be available in districts too. This is another major achievement of the project that will bring relief to cancer patients,” authorities said.