The Annual General Boldy of the Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC) condemned the recent decision of the Government of Belgium to permit euthanasia for children and appealed to reconsider this. The AGM of IAPC, in a resolution, urged all governments to ensure palliative care for all those who need it.
“The members of the Indian Association of Palliative Care are greatly saddened by the recent decision of the Government of Belgium to permit euthanasia of children. We believe firmly that euthanasia is inconsistent with the principles and philosophy of palliative care. We appeal to the Belgian government to reconsider this decision.”
The Lower House of the Parliament of Belgium has approved Child Euthanization Bill, on 13th February 2014, which permits doctors to euthanize children of all ages.
Under the new law a child can request euthanasia if the child is ‘in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and which will cause death in the short term'.
This move comes after the amendments were approved by the Lower House yesterday, following long years of hard work by Indian palliative care advocates.
“Honestly, we find it difficult to believe that it happened,”says Dr. M R Rajagopal, Director,PalliumIndia, WHO Collaborating Centre for Training and Policy on Access to Pain Relief, ,Trivandrum. “But at about 5.35 PM on 21 February 2014, the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament passed the NDPS amendment bill. It has been a great journey, frustrating most of the time, but nevertheless a great experience, finding goodness in people all over the country, in the highest places in the Government as well as among the common people,” Dr. Rajagopal said.
Dr. S. N. Simha, President, Indian Association of Palliative Care said that, the passing of the NDPS Bill is a seminal and much awaited step in ensuring the availability of morphine for pain control. “We still have lots of work to do.Our grateful thanks to all those in the Government who made it happen and to our Parliament to understand its importance and pass it in time,”-added Dr. Simha.
Dr. Priyadarshini Kulkarni, Secretar, Indian Association of Palliative Care said: “This is a great news ! We were eagerly waiting for this.”
“Access and availability to the right pain relief medications for severe pain was glaringly absent in our health care systems. The NDPS Amendment Bill 2011 has been passed by the Loksabha and Rajya Sabha. We are grateful to the officials at the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Health, who have initiated the first step of a long awaited reform that is going to truly transform the quality of life of millions in our country, who are in needless pain,”- said Dr. Nandini V,Faculty in Palliative Care. Dr. Nadini has contributed a lot in the advocacy activities to amend the NDPS bill.
Mr Rajesh Nandan Srivastava, the director of Narcotics said, “It was like hitting a six off the last ball when six were needed”
“Millions of Indians suffering chronic pain will get better access to pain medicines following changes in India’s drug law,” Human Rights Watch said. The response of Human Rights Watch came immediately after the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Parliament of India, approved the Amendments to the NDPS Act.
“The revised Drug Act is a very good news for people with pain in India,” said Diederik Lohman, senior health researcher at Human Rights Watch (HEW). “These changes will help spare millions of people the indignity of suffering needlessly from severe pain.”
“India had made significant progress in improving the availability of palliative care in recent years,” Lohman said. “But the new revisions to the Drug Act remove one of the biggest remaining barriers to dignified end-of-life care in India.”
Read the report ‘India: Major Breakthrough for Pain Patients ‘ here
In the Annual World Report, published on 21st January 2014, Human Rights Watch criticized the Government of India for not implementing policies which make palliative care accessible to all.