Improving End-of-Life Care by Integrating Indic Perspectives on Ageing and Dying
India is going through a demographic and epidemiological transition. As a result, most aged in India are experiencing a highly protracted ‘medicalised death’ in acute care hospitals, entangled in tubes and machines. At the other extreme, there are many who are dying of abject neglect. In other words, India has not yet evolved an End-of -Life Care (EoLC) strategy. In fact, the Lien Foundation (2009) rated India as the least preferred on a list of forty leading countries in EoLC. Much of the problem could be attributed to (a) biomedicine’s inability to provide adequate relief and pain management for chronically ill and dying people and (b) high cost of care. Although on WHO’s recommendation, a few Palliative Centers and Hospices have been set up in some states, yet the entire movement seems to be Western in approach, focused primarily on cancer, and co-opted by the field of biomedicine—an alien system of healing in India.
As opposed to the western ‘specialization of death,’ India has for long, mastered a unique Art of Dying nurtured by a philosophy which embraces death as an integral part of life. The Indic philosophy which is death affirming, has been supported by indigenous healing systems like Yoga and Ayurveda which help the dying to exit peacefully. The project aims to develop an experimental model of EoLC which revives this art of dying within an interdisciplinary framework.
The proposed project is expected to provide guidelines in developing a model which would free hospitals of their care overload, optimize resources in end-of-life, build a continuum of care structure and create an interface with biomedicine and indigenous healing traditions. The experimental model may have the potential to generate ideas for the upcoming Super-specialty hospital at IIT KGP.
Principal Investigator (s)
Suhita Chopra Chatterjee
Priyadarshi Patnaik, N. C. Nayak, J. Mahakud, Haimanti Banerjee, Joy Sen, A. K. Pradhan