Dr. Michael Minton from Oxford, UK, was in Hyderabad for the 22nd Indian Association of Palliative Care conference held on 13-15 February. Here, he reflects on the conference.
My first Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC) conference was in 1999 since when I have had the pleasure of observing the growth and sophistication of Indian palliative care. This was reflected at the Hyderabad conference where there were 650 delegates, of whom 140 were international, demonstrating the support and interest that Indian palliative care has inspired.
The theme of the conference was ‘Influence, Integrate and Innovate’ and this was ably achieved within the program. Topics ranged from helping patients make their own affordable treatment aids, e.g. varied colored tablet pots, mouthwash, and dressings to an innovatively designed feeding spoon for patients with swallowing difficulties from oral cancers, and which won best oral presentation. There were reports on several new community programs with examples of innovative use of IT to improve communications and quality of service.
Integration of acute hospital teams was reported: from the success of working with intensive care units to an initiative with stem cell transplant patients. I was impressed by the work that the IAPC has achieved with the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine. 1 There were papers identifying the psychosocial needs of young adults with cancer and the attitudes to sexual functioning in men living with spinal cord injury in Kerala.
The influence of Indian palliative care was highlighted in the progress reports from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The IAPC aired its cautious optimism that the significant amendment to the Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substances Act in 2104 will allow oral morphine availability throughout India in due course.
While attitudinal change can sometimes take a generation, I feel that 22 years on Indian palliative care has gained momentum and has the influence and energy to achieve progressive integration within the Indian healthcare system. For more information about the conference please visit the conference website.
1. Myatra SN An integrated plan for the dying. Indian J Crit Care Med 2104;18:615-35.
More about Dr. Michael Minton
Dr. Minton is a retired palliative medicine consultant from Sir Michael Sobell House, Oxford, UK. He has visited India on many occasions, contributed to previous IAPC conferences, and teaching sessions with the charity Cansupport in Delhi. He is
currently a mentor with THET (Tropical Health & Education Trust) and an associate with Palliative Care Works.
Dr. Michael Minton, email: firstname.lastname@example.org