Correction: Government-level advocacy for palliative care development in India

Categories: Policy.

Government support for palliative care development is high on the agenda in India. Dr Stephen Connor and Dr Jim Cleary brought their knowledge and experience of international palliative care advocacy, as they accompanied representatives of Pallium India on visits to government officials in Delhi. 

The partners met with Shri Desiraju, India’s new Health Secretary, Dr Jagdish Prasad, the Director General of Health Services, and Dr Sudhir Gupta, the Deputy Director General of Health Services. The government officials were readily sympathetic to the needs presented.

Dr Srivastava, the secretary of the Medical Council of India, as well as Dr Josephine Littleflower, the nursing officer at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, agreed to do all they could to include palliative care in undergraduate medical and nursing curricula.

According to Dr Connor, there are three big developments in the works and there is a sense that a tipping point is near. The developments include:

  • inclusion of palliative care in the national health strategy 
  • a national law on opioid access
  • inclusion of palliative care curricula in medical and nursing schools. 

Speaking to ehospice, Dr Connor said: “Palliative care is now in the Indian national health strategy and agreement on a national law that supersedes the patchwork of state laws on opioids is in the works. Dr Cleary and I were asked to come through Delhi in advance of the Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC) meeting in Bangalore to show support for these efforts and to encourage the changes in curricula.

“We found strong government support for palliative care in all government hospitals. The Medical Council of India (MCI) has to approve changes to medical school curricula and during our meeting with the MCI Secretary we received assurance that the change would be made. Nursing school curricula changes to include palliative care also look very likely. After these meetings orchestrated by Dr MR Rajagopal, we went on to Bangalore to present at the IAPC Conference. It is an exciting time for palliative care in India thanks to the hard work of Indian palliative care leaders.”

In a note on their website, Pallium India expressed their appreciation to the two international experts, saying: “Jim and Stephen, we want you to know how grateful we are. Two days of your life is precious; there is no way anyone can give them back to you. Thank you very much.”