Palliative Care – Even the sick and weak have human rights

Human rights have existed since human existence and they are what allow us to live as humans. And since its existence, human rights have evolved in many ways and they still continue to do so. They have evolved from freeing all humans from slavery to all men being born equal to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to equal rights for the underprivileged to LGBT community’s rights, and the evolution still continues. One such recent evolution in human rights is ‘Palliative care’. So, what is palliative care?

I am sure not many of us know what palliative care means. If I had to connote it in simpler words, it means ‘End of Life Care’. When a person is struck with a long-term disease or a chronic disease, like cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc., whereby their death is imminent, their world is disrupted. The same is the case when a person becomes frail due to old age. Such persons’ normal routine undergoes a change and they are in need of special care.

When a person is suffering from a chronic or a long-term disease or is frail due to old age, they become patients and their family members become their ‘caregivers’. This has been a trend for many years now. The family starts caring for such aforementioned persons, and this becomes a burden on both the ill persons and the family members. Why? Because the ill persons are not given the proper care which the professionals can give and this tends to give them more pain, adding to their already existing pain, and the family members are also burdened with due to emotional and financial issues.

It’s not easy to take care of an old frail person and a person suffering from a long-term disease. So, why do such persons need palliative care? It’s to preserve their human rights. Palliative care is fundamental for preserving the health and dignity of the diseased and the old people; and this can be done by providing the necessary care to such persons by eliminating, or at least by reducing, the pain and other distressing symptoms. Palliative care helps the patients by helping them in identifying the physical and the emotional needs, by providing comfort and by helping to cope with the changes in their condition.

Of course, Palliative Care is not restricted only to the patients, but also to their family members. The emotional issues that the patients’ family members go through are burdening on them and even on the patients, equally. That’s when Palliative Care comes into the picture and helps the family members, too, through compassionate listening, which can help them deal with their grief and move on with their lives, and also helps them with decision making related to the goals of care of the patients.

In short, Palliative Care exists to ensure that the patients suffering from long-term diseases and frailty due to old age live a painless life for the limited amount of time they have. And, though very recent development in human rights field, there have been many Palliative Care centres set up in many countries, including India, to protect the human rights of the diseased and old persons. So, next time, you have a family member who needs that extra care or end-of-life care, just look up on the internet for the Palliative Care centres.


Headshot - Vidhya Kumarswamy


Vidhya Kumarswamy is a Law student pursuing B.B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), has a craving for knowledge and passionate about writing just as she’s a passionate foodie. Also, she’s a blogger and an Otaku.

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