KOCHI: Doctors in Kerala — India’s role-model state for healthcare development with basic health indicators matching many developed countries — are divided on the issue of passive euthanasia. While few agree that it provides a silver lining for those suffer from an incurable terminal illness, there are others who are concerned about its reverse effects.
“It is a huge relief to see the Supreme Court judgement, which makes an advance medical directive legally binding on the medical profession. But this only a beginning. The legality is not the only issue. If it is to protect the common man, the society must be willing to discuss death and to prepare for it,” said Dr M R Rajagopal, chairman, Pallium India, Thiruvananthapuram. He added that it is equally important to make sure that the legal procedures connected with this are as friendly as possible to the common man.
However, Indian Medical Association (IMA) state secretary Dr N Sulphi said that with this the doctors who so far saved lives, would be expected to kill people by withdrawing treatment. “How can we withdraw treatment? Already we are seeing that the geriatric patients are ignored by their family members and with this, the risk of misuse is high. The medical community is soon going to be dragged into greater problems,” he said.
“We need to emphasise on living with dignity till death and for this we need to have good hospice and quality palliative care especially to ensure that the suffering of patients is reduced at the end of life,” said Dr Prasanth C V, department of palliative medicine, Regional Cancer Centre.
Doctors contended that in the countries where euthanasia is legalised, the living conditions, democratic values, social security schemes and healthcare facilities are much better. But in a country like India, the situation is different. “Euthanasia is implemented after extensive verification of physical and mental health and at the highest philosophical level. In India, it may have reverse effects,” said Travancore Cochin Medical Council vice-president Dr VG Pradeep Kumar.