The Eastern Indian Palliative Care Project (EIPC) is a health partnership between the UK and Eastern India, which involves introducing palliative care – including good pain control and best quality of life – with plans for sustainability.
Yesterday evening at the Nehru cultural centre, this work was celebrated through arias and songs by Viola da Cunha, an international mezzo soprano of Goan origin, and Dr Susmita Ghosh Mitra from Kolkata. Ms da Cunha included in her performance a song cycle composed by Laura Shur using poems written by a dying patient during her period in St Joseph’s hospice in London.
Dr Sankha Mitra, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and Chairman of the EIPC Board of Trustees, briefly addressed the audience. He introduced the work of EIPC before noting that the historically masculine tradition of modern medicine seems to be reaching its limits, and that a more ‘feminine’ approach is needed to address challenges of diseases that cannot be cured and that require a more caring approach.
Dr Mitra also called for greater coordination of the public, private and non-governmental sectors to address the crisis, not just in palliative care, but in health care in general in Eastern India and throughout the world.
West Bengal has a population of 91 million and is two-thirds the size of England. Patients with advanced and chronic medical conditions present with a high burden of pain and symptoms and are neglected due to a lack of organised palliative care services and lack of morphine availability.
EIPC facilitates the training of enthusiastic professionals and volunteers amongst much stigma and fears surrounding cancer, AIDS and other conditions.
Look out for an interview with Dr Sankha Mitra on ehospice later this week.