Providing palliative care for metastatic breast cancer patients in rural West Bengal, India

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Information and support gap Raising patient voices and awareness


Prayas project - SPARC

In India, breast cancer has the highest incidence and mortality when compared to any other cancer.[1] According to Narikeldaha Prayas (referred to as Prayas), the main obstacles preventing proper palliative care in rural Purba Medinipur in West Bengal are poverty, problems accessing healthcare services and lack of awareness. Prayas reported that many patients they work with have advanced stage cancer and little access to palliative care. For this reason, Prayas’ project aimed to improve the lives of MBC patients and their families by providing palliative care, training volunteers in palliative care and holding education campaigns about breast cancer in local colleges.

Prayas, meaning “effort”, is a Bengal-based, non-profit organisation that provides palliative care for advanced stage cancer patients. They have been offering in-home care to patients since 2008, tending to over 10,000 patients and their families by providing a supportive environment.

“As in many developing countries, West Bengal has a huge burden of metastatic breast cancer and patients come from rural areas where [there is little] access to palliative care… After we were awarded a SPARC grant, we gave proper training to caregivers, volunteers and social workers working with MBC patients, so that symptoms could be managed locally.” 
Aditya Manna
Aditya Manna
Prayas project - Education

Project description

Prayas was awarded a SPARC MBC Challenge grant in 2015. In this project, Prayas volunteers made regular home visits guided by a palliative care specialist to provide end of life care and pain management. They held separate training programmes for new Prayas volunteers in palliative care, and for MBC patients’ families and caregivers in basic care. Finally, they held campaigns in colleges and schools to raise awareness about cancer among West Bengal’s youth.


Prayas project - Training

More than 50 volunteers were trained to provide palliative care in training programmes that took place every three months from 2016-2017. Prayas also provided training in basic care to MBC patients’ families and caregivers. On 4th February 2016 and 2017, World Cancer Day, they hosted a community gathering of local cancer survivors, their families and caregivers. Additionally, awareness campaigns about early detection of cancer and social stigma were held in five local colleges, and three schools. Prayas reported that approximately 400 students in rural settings were reached through these campaigns.


Organisation's website: Narikeldaha Prayas


[1] GLOBOCAN 2019

(Information from the project description and context is compiled from the SPARC reports)

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Last update

Friday 03 February 2023

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