Shri Kadakampally Surendran, Hon’ble Minister for Tourism &  Devaswom,

Adv. V.K. Prasanth, Mayor and Chairman, Organizing Committee,

Shri O. Rajagopal MLA,

Shri C. Divakaran MLA,

Shri V.S. Sivakumar MLA,

Dr. M.R. Rajagopal, Padmasree Awardee,

Shri Narayanan, State Secretary, IAPC,

Shri K. Vijayakumaran Nair, Convenor, Organizing Committee,

Dr. M.B. Johnson, President, Trivandrum Initiative of Palliative Care,

Dear Volunteers, Friends in the Media,


Priyappetta Sahodaree Sahodaranmare

Ellaavarkkum Ente Namaskaaram,

       I am very happy to inaugurate this Meeting of Palliative Care Volunteers organized by theTrivandrum Initiative in Palliative Care. It adds to my joy that we are felicitating
Dr. M.R. Rajagopal, who has been rightly regarded ‘as the Father of Palliative care in India.’  Hisservices have been recognized in 2018, through the conferment of Padmasree, the fourth highest civilian honour in India.

       Let me at the outset, compliment the Trivandrum Initiative of Palliative Carefor organizing this meeting, which highlights the need to ensure concerted action to reach out to people in need of care.  As a registered charitable society, the Trivandrum Initiative in Palliative Care [TIPC] has been trying to bring individual Palliative care  initiatives in the district under one common umbrella for better interaction, planning and for drafting a common plan of action to help patients with chronic pain. Its efforts to provide social, educational, financial and psychological care to the families of patients is also laudable.

       This meeting is being held at a time when Kerala has decided to achieve total Palliative care delivery by
co-ordinating the work of all governmental and non-governmental organizations engaged in Palliative Care. Our new Health Policy which gives priority for cancer therapy and palliative care, envisions the service of physiotherapists, nurses and others in 232 community health centres to help over 1.5 lakh bedridden patients.  I sincerely hope that the volunteers who have gathered here would be able to contribute to such efforts.

       As we all know, nearly one million new cases of cancer occur each year in India, with a sizable number manifesting at the third and fourth stages.  It is at such stages that Palliative care becomes the only option.  But, it is frightening to note that at present, less than 1% of the people in India have access to palliative care. In a country where annually, 6 million people require Palliative care, due to cancer and other ailments this figure is disappointing.

        But, we can be proud that Kerala, which has less than 3% of India’s population, is way ahead of other States in the coverage of palliative care. For this, we owe a lot to people like Dr. M.R. Rajagopal who worked hard to help patients and to convince policy makers about the need for effective palliative care.  I understand that it was on a request from Pallium India, started by Dr. M.R. Rajagopal that the Government of Kerala appointed a committee to draft the Palliative Care Policy for the State in2008. This made Kerala, the first State to declare such a policy which accepted palliative care as an essential part of health care in the State.

       I must appreciate Dr. M. R. Rajagopal for another important contribution.  He took much effort to suggest changes in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances [NDPS] Act of 1985, which becomes relevant due to the provisions relate to drugs used in Palliative care.  This Act was amended in 2016, but I am certain that it will need further changes as the science of palliative care progresses.

Now that we are ahead of others in Palliative care, there are some areas that need urgent attention.  One is creation of awareness among people, especially the youth, on what exactly is Palliative care. Another area that needs our attention is Research.  Our State funded universities should encourage Research in Palliative care so that we could improve upon the care provided now.

       When a person is affected by a chronic or life-threatening illnesses it is not just one individual who suffers. An entire family is badly affected in and therefore, we need a system of care that looks at the entire home. I am happy that some of the Palliative care agencies like Rajeswari Foundation are helping the children of such families in their education and even encouraging their talents.

Today, home-based palliative care services have great relevance since terminally ill patients feel most comfortable in the company of their loved ones. It is here that the service of volunteers attains greater significance. I would suggest that the volunteers who visit houses of patients should also help in giving at least elementary palliative care training to the members of those houses.

I have been informed that the volunteers who have assembled here include doctors, nurses, social workers and even students.  All these volunteers and agencies could seek the guidance of Dr. M.R. Rajagopal in handling patients and their families. The aim of each volunteer should be to create interest in their friends for this kind of work. It would be worthwhile to recall Mahatma Gandhi's saying that there is no better prayer to God than working to mitigate the suffering of others.  I consider the services offered by these volunteers  to be perfectly in tune with this philosophy.  I have no doubt that your acts of genuine compassion and affection will receive the full support of society.

I also appreciate the good work done by agencies like Pallium India, Sukritham, Palode Pain Centre, Sneha, Fathima Clinic etc., in Palliative care and hope many more groups would come forward to offer similar services.

       I also wish Dr. M.R. Rajagopal good health, energy and the abundant social support to carry out the great work he has been doing for decades. I also join with other              well wishers for  further higher awards to Dr. M. R. Rajagopal in the coming years from the hands of our Hon’ble President of India

Ellavarkkum Ente Aashamsakal


Jai Hind