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Death in Kerala

Updated Tuesday 22nd September 2009

Does the West have anything to learn from the sensitive and diginified approach to death in Kerala?

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The Home Care Unit Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Carol Komaromy
The Home Care team ambulance

Talking in the Kerala Clinic courtyard Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Carol Komaromy
Talking outside the Kerala clinic

Northern Kerala, in Southern India, has successfully adopted a model of palliative care that is suited to the social, political and economic conditions of the region.

It stands as a testomy to providing good quality, home-based, end-of-life care through its clinics and home care service to dying people regardless of their diagnosis.

The treatment is free at the point of delivery. Featured above is one of the clinics that dying people visit for treatment.

Washing outside a home in Kerala Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Carol Komaromy
Washing hanging outside a Kerala home

This so-called resource-poor area has shown itself to be rich in terms of its attitude to and care of dying people. Palliative care in Northern Kerala serves a population of 11 million in six states and its reach is growing all the time. Material wealth might seem to be at a relatively low level but Kerala has a literacy rate of 98% and education is a highly prized resource.

 

A major conference on care Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Carol Komaromy
Western societies have much to learn about Kerala’s model of care, as shared at this conference
Fishing boat in Kerala Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Carol Komaromy
A boat by the side of the sea

 

Amidst the beauty of the coast in Northern Kerala fishing communities like Calicut live at the level of subsistence. This community was involved and interested in supporting an older dying woman in the village and her family. The visit by the palliative care team was a public event and one that many of the villagers shared.

 

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