In India, IASP and Pain and Palliative Care Groups Look to National Health Ministry for Action

Dec 10, 2015

As part of the IASP Council’s outreach to the India chapter and other pain relief groups in the country, a group of IASP leaders and Indian pain specialists met with officials of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to discuss the country’s national pain policy.

IASP President Rolf-Detlef Treede, Secretary Srinivasa Raja, and Executive Director Matthew D’Uva joined Dr. Sushma Bhatnagar, Dr. Ashok Kumar Saxena, Dr. Gautam Das, and Dr. Shiv Pratap Singh Rana to discuss ways organizations such as IASP, the Indian Society for the Study of Pain, and the International Association of Palliative Care can work with the ministry to better support patients and clinicians across India. 

One topic of discussion was the growing importance of pain as the fifth “vital sign”—heart rate, respiration, temperature, and blood pressure being the other four. Additionally, there was active discussion around the issue of pain being associated with a particular pathology or disease. In that regard, the group suggested that many patients require pain management even more than treatment for a particular disease. Chronic diseases and cancers, for example, require attention apart from the disease itself, particularly because medical science might not be equipped to cure the disease.

Finally, the group underscored the importance of pain education for patients and clinicians, including the inclusion of pain as a specialty in medical curriculum.  

At the conclusion of the meeting, the director general concluded that importance of pain management facilities is emerging and that their role in medicine, including palliative medicine, should not be ignored. He proposed the formation of an official subcommittee for pain services to complement current palliative care services.  This decision represents a significant opportunity for the pain specialists, clinicians, and researchers across India and their ability to support their patients. 

Participants at the meeting with officials of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare included (left to right) Dr. A.K. Saxena, Dr. Rath, IASP President Rolf-Detlef Treede, Dr. S. Bhatnagar, IASP Executive Director Matthew D'Uva, Dr. S.P.S. Rana, IASP Secretary Srinivasa Raja, Dr. G. Das, and Dr. S. Raheja.

 India Health Ministry