Palliative care (from Latin palliare, to cloak) is a specialized area of healthcare that focuses on relieving and preventing the suffering of patients. It includes care of the patient and family, pain and symptom management, disease-modifying treatments, psychological, social, spiritual support and bereavement support. 1
Palliative care assumes importance in every health-care programme. It is estimated that nearly one million Indians with conditions like cancer die in acute, unnecessary pain because of the lack of palliative care.
Kerala has a functioning palliative care model- the Neighborhood Network in Palliative Care (NNPC). Every week, thousands of volunteers across the state give up their time to go and tend to those who are dying. They may cook food, help with chores, or simply provide a listening ear. 3 Community mobilization and involvement of self-government institutions have led to its success.
Two-third of the palliative care initiatives of the country are in Kerala. There are more than 200 community based organizations running palliative care initiatives in the state in addition to the 300 Government palliative care initiatives. 2 It is also the only state in the country to have a palliative care policy. Discussions are on to spread this model to the rest of the country.