Dr. M.R. Rajagopal was born on September 23, 1947, in Trivandrum, Kerala, India. One of three children, he spent much of his childhood living with his grandparents. He studied at the Medical College in Trivandrum and graduated with a Medical Degree from the Medical College of Trivandrum. He then continued his education at the Medical College and the Pain and Palliative Care Society, and at Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences in Trivandrum. Then, he did his Post Graduate work at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.Married to Chandrika Bhasurangan Kumari, he has two sons, who became engineers; one lives in San Francisco, the other in Bangalore.
Dr. Rajagopal was first confronted with the suffering caused by untreated pain, when, as a medical student, a first cousin who was in terrible pain and dying, touched his heart like no other. His cousin’s relatives were at a loss on what to do. Later, as a young doctor, he was so disturbed by the notion that patients in pain could not access inexpensive and highly effective medications, he decided to leave the prestigious field of Anesthesiology and became a Palliative Care physician in the mid-1980s. He was among the first ones who took this lonely path in India.
After securing solid training, he traveled all over rural Kerala (population 37 million) to offer pain relief in the homes of patients who were too sick to come to his clinic. Knowing too well the limits of what one person alone can achieve, Dr. Rajagopal began setting up palliative care providers throughout northern Kerala. This network of palliative care providers is now widely recognized as the most successful community-based palliative care program in the world.
With colleagues, Dr. Rajagopal founded the Pain and Palliative Care Society (PPCS) in the Medical College, Calicut, in 1993. Two years later, PPCS was recognized as a model demonstration project by the World Health Organization, on account of its suitability for the socio-cultural needs of the country, novel training programs, and strong roots in the community. Over ten years, it transformed as the biggest Palliative Care Centre in India.
In 2003, Dr. Rajagopal founded Pallium India, a charitable trust which goal is to improve the coverage and accessibility of quality palliative care in India, and including the Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences in 2006.
Dr. Rajagopal was among the first to frame access to pain relief in human rights terms. In 1997, he and another doctor, filed a successful complaint with the Delhi High Court, arguing that the government had an obligation to provide pain treatment. When the government failed to implement the ruling outcome, Dr. Rajagopal and several others initiated a public interest litigation case before the Supreme Court of India that sought to compel states to ensure availability of pain treatment and palliative care services. Significant legislative reform was achieved, and Dr. Rajagopal had worked tirelessly since then, to ensure that the new laws are adopted nationwide.
Dr. Rajagopal achievements are as follows:
- Chairman of Pallium Indiahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._R._Rajagopal – cite_note-19
- Director, W.H.O Collaborating Centre for Policy and Training on Access to Pain Relief (Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences)
- Member, Advisory Committee on Palliative Care, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
- Member, Governing Council, Kerala University of Health Sciences
- Member, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation Board
- Member, International Experts Committee, W.H.O Collaborating Centre at Pain and Policy Studies Group, Madison-Wisconsin, USA
- Member, Technical Resource Group on Non-Communicable Diseases, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India
- Commissioner, Lancet commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief
- Visiting Professor, Peter McCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia, 2014
- Visiting Professor, University of Chengdu, China, 2014
- Visiting Professor, St. Johns Medical College, India, 2014
- Member of the Developing Countries Task Force, International Association for Study of Pain (IASP)
Current involvement with scientific journals:
- Member, Editorial Board, Indian Journal of Palliative Care.
- Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
- Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy.
- Member, Editorial Board, Palliative Care: Research and Treatment.
- Member, Editorial Board, Pain: Clinical Updates; International Association for Study of Pain.
Dr. Rajagopal is on the editorial board of several international journals and has authored/edited two textbooks, several book chapters (including Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine) and more than 30 publications in scientific journals.