Rumana Hamied, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Shahid Akhter, Editor-in-Chief, ETHealthworld, spoke with Rumana Hamied, Managing Director, Cipla Foundation and Cipla Palliative Care & Training Center, to learn more about the need to combine palliative care and curative treatment as an extra layer support in the management of life. limiting diseases.

Your take on the current gaps in access to palliative care in India?
There is a huge gap in access to palliative care in India. From lack of awareness and knowledge, research and evidence, infrastructure and investment to available resources, access to palliative care is only 4% 1 in India.

It is therefore essential to recognize that this is not just end-of-life care, it is a paradigm shift in how we approach care from the moment of diagnosis. Considering India’s population and the growing growth of serious illnesses, the need for palliative care is expected to reflect an increasing trend, but we have little evidence to support the same. Awareness and understanding of palliative care are therefore the most glaring gaps reducing access in India.

Why is early integration essential to ensure holistic and responsive care for people with serious illnesses?
Palliative care means adapted care, that is, meeting the needs of an individual. It extends beyond cancer, to children and adults with neurological problems or thalassemia, and to all serious and fatal diseases. Palliative care can be combined with curative treatments to provide an additional layer of support, taking into account the impact of the disease on the individual.

Early integration of palliative care can be empowering as it provides holistic and responsive care, which improves outcomes for patients and caregivers. Strong evidence suggests that early introduction of palliative care allows patients to adhere to treatment protocols and have a better quality of life. Palliative care puts the patient at the center, not the disease.

Critically ill patients have a multi-pronged approach to their care plan to help improve quality of life at every stage of their treatment. This requires a cross-functional team with varied skills such as physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists, and medical social workers to assess and support patients and their families based on their unique needs.

Integrating palliative care into the health system can bring holistic well-being to communities and reduce unnecessary pain and symptoms for patients.

How does the Cipla Foundation work with partners to fill the void in palliative care?
25 years ago, in 1997, Cipla founded the Center for Palliative Care and Training (CPC) to support patients and their families in their most difficult times. Since then, we have reached 18,500 patients with free care. The 55-bed center is designed to personalize care, while allowing families to care for their patients. We aim to give patients and their families the flexibility and convenience to receive support at their preferred location – home, clinic or hospital. Today we continue to embody the spirit of “taking care of life”.

In order to ensure equity in access to palliative care, we began work early on recognizing the need to strengthen and consolidate palliative care across the country. Our work with 15 organizations in Mumbai, Delhi, Punjab, Guwahati, Indore and Thiruvananthapuram, among others, has slowly helped change the landscape of palliative care – by introducing and building on models of home care, hospital care , ambulatory care and community engagement. .

To ensure greater awareness of palliative care among healthcare providers, the Cipla Foundation has trained and strengthened the capacities of physicians, healthcare workers, nurses and young medical students to help improve the ecosystem. prevail and create readiness for recognition and action for palliative care.

Some states with hospice palliative care policies are ahead of the curve in ensuring access to the service, while others see singular projects and individuals working hard to reach the last mile. The belief of the Cipla Foundation in the premise and results of palliative care has resulted in a partnership with leaders from the space, to strengthen our engagement and our work, and to reach more people in the most remote places of the country. .

How was Saath-Saath conceptualized? What is the goal of the helpline and how does it tackle inequalities in access?
The “Saath-Saath” helpline is the culmination of palliative care organizations that have worked together for years, with a common vision for equal and equitable access to palliative care. This helpline exemplifies the vital role of advancing India’s palliative care agenda, acting as a building block to increase access to palliative care, in remote locations.

The service aims to ensure that no one with a serious illness feels alone and has access to options such as pain relief, physiotherapy, dietary advice and family counseling to help them and their caregivers. with the help of qualified health professionals and trained volunteers.

The helpline strives to create a single point of contact for connections to all types and categories of palliative care, for all age groups – from children to the elderly, from all socio-economic backgrounds and in the most remote places of India. We are getting calls from Mumbai, Guwahati, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai, for links to pain management, home care, financial assistance, service information and emotional support.

Pooling our strengths ensures that we are supported by our collective knowledge, years of experience and grassroots learnings. The combination of these resources helps us re-evaluate, rethink and recalibrate our approach across the spectrum of home care, OPD, in patient and outpatient care, and multiply the impact in different areas of palliative care.

The uniqueness of this partnership is that it involves multi-stakeholder engagement – drawing on patients, caregivers, healthcare workers, researchers, advocates and all those who need to help strengthen the palliative ecosystem in India and around the world.

How does the Cipla Foundation plan to expand and expand its efforts in the field of palliative care?
The Saath-Saath helpline is the starting point for unifying efforts in palliative care and expanding, expanding and strengthening the work and reach. The next step in ensuring the integration of palliative care would require cross-sectoral partnerships – public, private and industry agnostic, which will create a fundamental shift in the way palliative care is understood, received, invested and supported in the years to come, thus creating a culture that includes palliative care.

The Cipla Foundation is rooted in the goal of “Caring for Life” and therefore a natural result has been our work in the field of palliative care. We will invest in palliative care from the micro to the macro level – from individuals and caregivers to policy and advocacy.

Our next steps include expanding pediatric palliative care work, training and creating knowledgeable palliative care experts across the country, integrating palliative care into the larger health system, and creating a palliative care movement that helps build understanding and action for palliative care.

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