An estimated four lakh people die of various forms of cancer alone in India every year, presumably after a long period of illness.
What scares the patients more than death itself is the pain and suffering associated with their illnesses and this is what palliative care experts try to minimise through physical and psychological support.
65-year-old Zaheera Bi (name changed) has been a cancer patient for about a year and half now. About three months ago, the local government hospital turned its back on her saying she could not be cured. Things would have been worse for her if not for a group of palliative caregivers who land up at her house regularly to dress her wounds and replenish her medicine stock.
"If you take her to a hospital, the people there won't even touch her. But these people come to our house, they clean her and take care of her so well,” said Fathima’s granddaughter.According to the International Observatory on the End of Life Care, there are only 138 palliative care centres in India, which cater to the need of over 4 lakh people who die of cancer