Palliative Care in India: Past, Present, and Future

Naveen Salins, Sushma Bhatnagar, Srinagesh Simha, Suresh Kumar, M. R. Rajagopal

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Over the last 4 decades, palliative care in India had steady growth and development from the early hospice movement in the 1980s to specialist and subspecialist palliative medicine in the 2020s. In the first decade, sustainable service delivery by capacity building, novel contextual community networking models, education facilitated by international collaboration, efforts towards opioid access, and nationwide networking through the formation of an association kindled the grand beginning of palliative care in India. Over the next 2 decades, palliative care in India evolved and developed as a speciality, disseminated across the nation, found its place in all clinical settings, engaged with specialities and subspecialities, developed its own specialist training program, and focused on indigenous research enabled through its own journal. Furthermore, end-of-life care awareness, training, advocacy, and initiatives towards policy and legislation reaped huge dividends in terms of improving the quality of dying in India. Generalist training through short and intermediate courses enhanced the knowledge and interest of the primary health care providers and non-palliative care specialists and education through international collaboration both in-person and distance learning modes augmented these efforts. In 2019, most elements of palliative care are part of the undergraduate medical curriculum. Policy initiatives by state and central governments and the inclusion of palliative care in the National Health Policy of 2017 offer hope for the future. In the last decade, we think that palliative care has found its footing and is ready to emerge as one of the dominant clinical specialities. Moreover, it is time for it to broaden its horizon, scope, and realm by developing into subspecialist verticals, being ubiquitous in all clinical spaces, focusing on robust evidence-based approach and research grounded in the Indian practice context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-90
JournalIndian Journal of Surgical Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 12-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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