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Right To Care—Palliative Care Awareness Walk 2019

On 12th October 2019, on the occasion of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, the ‘Walk for Palliative Care’ was held. The walkathon was organised by the Department of Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care, Kasturba Hospital, Manipal, with the aim to raise awareness about the need for palliative care and the benefits of the same.

The walkathon kicked off from Board High School, Udupi where participants from all walks of life showed up to extend support and raise awareness. They held up placards that demanded their right to a good quality of life and care. The sea of over 500 participants was led by a sound truck that disseminated information about the cause to by-standers via loudspeaker. The Udupi district police were present to ensure the safety of participants as they navigated through the town on this busy Saturday evening.

On being asked why the department chose to hold the walkathon in Udupi and not Manipal, organiser Tanvi Bhalla said, “Having the walk at Manipal would involve only the student community whereas, in Udupi, we can reach a wider spectrum of people, young and old, from all occupational circles”.

The walkathon ended at Dr TMA Pai Hospital, Udupi following which a short program was held, with dignitaries from medical and educational spheres in Manipal and Udupi present. Each of the dignitaries took to the dais in turn to address the audience and urged them to consider palliative care as a healthcare option, which would subsequently alleviate all kinds of burdens—financial, physical, and emotional—on the patients and their families.

The chief guest, Nisha James, Superintendent of Police, Udupi District, spoke about how important the walkathon was, considering the lack of awareness amongst the general public regarding their right to good quality of life, regardless of their health conditions. Following this, a few patients’ caregivers took to the stage to speak about how taking up palliative care made a huge difference in their families’ lives. The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Mr Avinash Shetty, Medical Superintendent of Kasturba Hospital, Manipal.

One of the faculty organisers, Dr Sridevi, said that the concept of palliative care was at a very nascent stage in India, with most of the population being unaware of such a course of treatment. She thinks it is of utmost importance to raise awareness at the community level so that people know their rights and how to access it. In spite of being a first-time event, the walkathon attracted a huge crowd and succeeded in stirring up a much-needed conversation.

Image credits: Volunteer Services Organisation (VSO), MAHE