World Cancer Day is observed annually on February 4 to raise awareness of this life-threatening disease. As the global health infrastructure grows by leaps and bounds, the deadly epidemic is now easily detected and diagnosed accordingly.
This year the theme is “Bridging the Care Gap”. Despite the impressive innovations, a significant part of the world still lacks access to basic health care facilities to cure disease. According to statistics from the World Cancer Day website, childhood cancer survival rates are above 80% in high-income countries and below 20% in low-income countries. These countries suffer all the more as the mortality rate from cervical cancer is over 90%.
The last decade has seen a staggering increase in cancer cases in India. According to Deccan Herald, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) reports a 12% increase in cancer cases over the next five years. The advent of COVID-19 in 2020 has worsened with several cancer patients being deprived of important treatments due to the pandemic.
Need for palliative care
Essentially, the need of the hour is to collectively fight Cancer. Palliative care is an integral part of this. The World Health Organization defines it as “improves the quality of life of patients and their families who face challenges associated with a life-threatening illness, whether physical, psychological, social and spiritual”.
The holistic care approach has been around since time immemorial. In India, palliative care lived in ancient times, but it was officially introduced in 1986 at Shanti Avedna Sadan in Mumbai. In 1993, the Pain and Palliative Care Society was established in Kerala and the Indian Association of Palliative Care was established in 1994.
In a conversation with The Logical Indian, a Professor of Anesthesia from the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh named Dr. Vanita Ahuja explains the process in more detail. She says, “There is no specific time frame in which palliative care can be provided, and it can and should begin at the time of diagnosis. Plus, it’s not just for cancer patients. issues where a patient’s functional ability is reduced, and this needs to be incorporated into ongoing treatment.”
In palliative care, the patient is well taken care of by the caregivers, and the latter are trained to meet the necessary needs until the moment of death. Like other countries, India is accelerating the pace of providing holistic care to patients with life-threatening diseases.
“At the moment, palliative care has been developing in India for about ten years. Thanks to a few doctors in the country, they have taken the concept forward. Now, some courses are introduced by the Indian Palliative Care Association, so that young minds are formed in much the same way.Compared to the past, we have more hospices,” says Dr. Ahuja.
Need the hour
At present, there are adequate measures to facilitate palliative care and palliative care in India. However, with the growing number of patients with life-altering diseases, a huge gap exists when it comes to inaccessibility. The Journal of Association of Physicians in India states that less than 1% of the population is aware of the process.
Dr. Ahuja clarifies the disparity: “There is a gap, I see between the patient and the caregiver. Most of the time, the latter is forgotten in the process. Sometimes, the two parties are not aware of the passage of the healing to healing So much money is spent on healing, yet healing is possible at any time, therefore a communication gap exists.
In addition, she stresses the need for awareness raising. Future doctors need to be trained and learn to follow the palliative process. “Palliative care is not the end of the road for the patient, and everyone must understand its necessity. While most people would like the cure immediately, at the same time, the treatment does not only involve the consumption of drugs , and it involves non-surgical and non-surgical means. There are ways to maintain a patient’s psychological well-being,” Dr. Ahuja concludes.
Also read: Have cancer treatments taken a back seat during COVID-19?