MAS Rural Initiative and Prayas are sister organisations set up to spread the idea of prevention and early diagnosis of cancer, and palliative care.
Apart from working for home based palliative care, these organisations look for opportunities to spread the idea of prevention and early diagnosis of cancer and palliative care among the younger generation.
We were approached by the conveners of a paramedic training course at Tulia S M High School, a rural higher secondary school in the Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal, for input about public health and palliative care.
The discussion began with general hygienic measures to tackle common health problems in the local rural areas.
In the next section, Dr Lalit K Khanra discussed prevention and early diagnosis of cancers. The focus of the discussion was on ideas which could be implemented by the students themselves.
Tobacco consumption in various forms is quite common in the local villages. So it was emphasised that tobacco was the most preventable major cause of cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in this area. Due to the high numbers of female students in the course, the speakers discussed breast self-examination, as well as PAP test and the HPV vaccine.
Mr Aditya Manna, who has received international recognition for his work on home based palliative care, was introduced to the students.
He spoke about the need for palliative care in India, and shared his experience in the area. He encouraged the students to consider palliative care as a career option.
There was a question and answer session at the end of the discussion where some of the ideas during the presentations were elaborated further.
The discussion went very well. The teachers and students listened intently, and some of the students expressed their desire for hands-on experience.
Although MAS Rural Initiative and Prayas do not currently have an internship or work experience programme, we have accepted these suggestions and may plan something to give interested students valuable work experience in the future.
It was a very rewarding session for the speakers from MAS Rural Initiative and Prayas; and from the reaction of the teachers and students we could surmise that it was very rewarding for them too.
We look forward to future collaborations.