India’s Movement to Help People Die Better

February 28, 2017

(The Atlantic) – “I realized that thinking about nerve blocks was too narrow. Pain is just the visible part of the iceberg of suffering. What is ignored is the part below the surface—feelings of hopelessness and despair, worries about money, about children. That is what palliative care is about. That man gave up his life to help me understand it.” We all wish for a pain-free, dignified death. Too few of us achieve it. Worldwide, the last year of life is marked by widespread unnecessary suffering. At least 40 million people need palliative care each year, but only around half that number receive it, according to the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance. India comes near the bottom of the global league in access to end-of-life care—ranked 67 out of 80 countries in 2015—but Kerala is an exception.