Saturday, March 24, 2007

cairdeas ball

Hello from a frosty and crisp Scottish morning. I am sitting with the sun filtered though the light, icy air of Perthshire enjoying Scotland. This is a beautiful country - my 'ain hame' and good to be back for a short while. Come and visit sometime when the heather is blooming, the sun lighting the mountains in amber, the lochs shimmering and the glens calling. That is when it is not raining !!!!We have just enjoyed the first ball for Cairdeas and what a great evening. We had a brilliant ceilidh from the band Shindig as well as good food, a fun auction with Doug Duthie officiating and a chance to share what we have been doing with Cairdeas over these past months. Thanks to all who made this evening a success. So many people put in a great effort and there were some amazing auction and raffle prizes. We even auctioned a sari and a sari tying lesson for a great price - thanks to Shoba who will do the honours. Most importantly folk were enthusiastic in their support for Cairdeas. While back home I have been wandering the UK seeing friends and family and taking the opportunity to be meet and plan for Cairdeas. Here is my wee god-daughter Phoebe and her sister Isobel down in Guildford. It was good to be part of Help the Hospice's training day for those interested in international palliative care, and to be at the APM meeting lecturing to the Doyle Club. All my UK colleagues are looking well if a few more gray hairs to share around. Our Trustees have had a day to look at the vision and planning for Cairdeas. There is much to be thankful for - not least that we have ended the financial year with a small surplus. Thanks so much to all who have supported and helped with this last year. Meanwhile, back in Vellore, the first Fellowship students are preparing to start on Monday the 26th! It is exciting to think that these students will be leading services of their own in years to come. I am looking forward to the sunshine though it is VERY HOT I hear. I have also missed my dosas for breakfast!!!!! Speak to you soon.

Monday, March 12, 2007


After a great IAPC conference in Mumbai I joined Indian and UK colleagues in Delhi. We were supporting the annual foundation course in palliative care run jointly by Cansupport and IRCH (International Rotary Cancer Hospital). Cansupport, which started with one base led by Harmala Gupta and Ruth Wooldridge, was also marking it's 10th anniversary. There are now 4 bases across Delhi providing much needed support for patients and their families at home. They also have a number of information initiatives - including a telephone helpline. There is a great team which includes trained nurses, doctors, psychologists and an army of volunteers. IRCH and AIMS led by Dr Sushma Bhatnagar have also seen progress this year with the opening of a small palliative care ward. It was such a privilege to teach the enthusiastic participants including a day for volunteers. There were twice the expected numbers which was encouraging and challenging! We managed a Sunday afternoon stroll among the ancient tombs of the Lodhi gardens in Delhi - here are some of the Faculty (Sue Varvel, Harmala Gupta, me, Ruth Wooldridge and Liz Minton with Michael behind the camera) Sue is now in Sierra Leone and we wish her well.

I also took the opportunity to visit my friends at ASHA. You might remember my last BLOG post from there. It is an inspirational project that seeks to 'provide support, education and healthcare for these people, giving them the motivation and abilities to make lasting changes to their lives.' ASHA supports healthcare, community empowerment and environment change and covers 250,000 people in the slum colonies of Delhi. Remember there are 4 million in these slums who are facing the daily grind of poverty and illness!!!! As recently as 2006 a slum was summarily demolished to make room for the planned athletes village for the Commonwealth games. Libby (a friend and young doctor from the UK who is doing a year's palliative care research in Calicut) came with me on a visit to Chandepuri slum. We saw first hand the incredible success of the community empowerment programme and met some of the inspirational women and children who lead the developments. Here is a healthy child - a real tribute to the programme. We are planning to help ASHA look at the palliative care needs later in the year.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


February 1oth to 12th saw the XIV International conference of the Indian Association of Palliative Care. It was hosted by Dr Mary Muckaden and her team at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbaiwhich is one of India's most famous cancer hospitals. Well done to the whole team for all their hard work! It was a great event with good conference sessions focusing on paediatric issues and some of the best posters and free papers of any conference so far. Here are 2 friends and former students Dr's Biju and Sunil (now in Alpha Pain Clinic, Trichur) enjoying a working lunch. It was also a lovely occasion to meet old friends and colleagues and forge new connections and friendships. There were innovative pieces of research being started including an very good early paper on sexuality issues from Manjeri. It is an important time for colleagues who work in isolated areas to have an opportunity to share. One such person is Dr Ujwal who works on her own in Chatisgargh, a state where there is great need - many tribal groups, no palliative care services and no oral morphine available. Dr Ujwal has asked if we can visit and help and this is very much the vision for Cairdeas - to offer support when asked and needed. There was also a colleague from Bangladesh at the conference for the first time forging new links across the borders..

International colleagues and speakers included Michael and Liz Minton, David Oliviere, Richard Hain, Gilly Burn, Jeremy and Penny Johnstone, Nathan Cherney, Suresh Reddy, Nick Pahl, Paul McCann and others!!! We had a whistle stop tour of Mumbai in the crazy traffic and saw the famous dhobi ghat. This is the world's biggest outdoor laundry where, every day, thousands of items of clothing are washed by hand (and feet), pressed with wood fire heated irons and returned to the correct owners!! Around 200 workers and their families literally live on the job!! I also enjoyed a bel puri and mango kulfi on Chowpatty beach with Nathan with no ill effects. Thanks to all for a great time in Mumbai.