By Harmala Gupta, IAHPC Board Member and
Founder and President, CanSupport
“He’s taking us with him,” laments a woman as her husband nears his end in the one room they call home. This is a sentiment echoed by many we look after at CanSupport when the main earner dies and leaves behind a young family.
Cancer is a catastrophic illness for the poor in India. Not only does it deprive them of loved ones, it leaves them in the clutches of creditors as they borrow and beg to pay the costs of treatment. As this is the segment of the population CanSupport focuses on, our job as palliative care professionals becomes more challenging. What responsibility, if any, do we have to these patients while they are alive, and to their caregivers once they die? Our answer has been to start a rehabilitation program for destitute patients and their caregivers.
The program, launched in 2011 by CanSupport, has mobilized resources by reaching out to the lay public and by networking with government, and non-government and private agencies. Initiatives have included:
Below is a summary of how many have benefitted from the rehabilitation program since its inception in 2011:
“Financial pain” cannot be ignored in India; those of us who work in the field of palliative care must engage with it. The majority of our patients and their families face the stark reality of financial pain; it is the context in which we work.
Not only does a rehabilitation program like ours make dying easier for the patient, it also makes living worthwhile for those left behind. A grieving family can once again pick up the threads of their life and make a fresh start.
Note: Learn more about CanSupport, an IAHPC member institution, in the IAHPC Global Directory of Palliative Care Institutions.
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