To relieve the pain and suffering of the terminally ill, the state government is planning to set up a palliative care institute to train medical staff in administering palliative care to terminally ill patients, and lay down policies and guidelines. It is also working on a palliative care policy.
The Maharashtra University of Health Sciences has been requested to include palliative care in MBBS and postgraduate programmes.
The state government has already launched its palliative care project at Jawhar in Thane and Igatpuri in Nashik with help from Tata Memorial Hospital. It will soon extend the same to six districts of Vidarbha — Amravati, Wardha, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Bhandara and Washim — in September. Training of the doctors, nurses and Accredited Social Health Activists is underway. The entire state, including urban areas, is expected to be covered in the XII five-year plan (till 2017).
Director of Health Services Dr Satish Pawar said, “There are patients who are bedridden after strokes, heart attacks, HIV, cancer or respiratory diseases… (problems) for which there is no easy cure. Our trained nurses will identify them, bring them to doctors, identify the treatment to be given, train their family members in avoiding bed sores and pain management. This will ensure that their last days are spent with dignity.”
Bedridden patients will have medical staff visiting them at regular intervals -- depending on the severity of the ailment -- to administer aid.
Around 1% (or over 10 lakh) of Maharashtra’s population consists of people with incurable diseases. Of these, around 30% are affected by cancer, while others suffer from heart diseases, neurological problems and other illnesses.
The public health department is seeking a licence for doctors to administer morphine to patients to relieve their pain. The central government has been requested to relax the rules.