M. R. Rajagopal

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M. R. Rajagopal
Dr. M. R Rajagopal.jpg
Born (1947-09-23) September 23, 1947 (age 71)
Trivandrum, Kerala, India.
EducationMedical graduation from Medical College, Trivandrum. Post graduate from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.
Years active1994 – present
Known forPioneer in Palliative Medicine in India
Medical career
ProfessionDoctor of medicine
InstitutionsMedical College, Trivandrum; Medical College, Calicut; Pain and Palliative Care Society, Calicut; Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences, Trivandrum
Sub-specialtiesAnesthesiology, Palliative Medicine
ResearchPalliative Medicine

M. R. Rajagopal (born 23 September 1947) is an Indian palliative care physician. He is the founder chairman of Pallium India, a palliative care non-governmental organisation based in Kerala, India.[1][2] He is often referred to as the 'father of palliative care in India'[3][4] in honour of his significant contribution to the palliative care scene in India.[5][6][7][8][9] In 2018, the Indian Government honored Dr M. R. Rajagopal with the Padma Shri award[10][11].

A documentary film based on Dr M R Rajagopal's life, titled "Hippocratic: 18 Experiments in Gently Shaking the World"[12] was released by Moonshine Agency, Australia, on World Palliative Care Day, October 14 2017.[13][14][15][16]

Rajagopal's advocacy has contributed to amendment of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of India in 2014 and in its implementation—a critical step in reducing needless suffering and allowing millions to access pain relief.[17] He was also the prime mover in the creation of the National Program for Palliative Care (NPPC) by the Ministry of Health of Government of India. In 2014, Rajagopal was honored by Human Rights Watch with Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism,[18] in recognition of his tireless efforts to defend the right of patients to live and die with dignity.

Positions held[edit]

Rajagopal holds the following positions:

  • Chairman of Pallium India[19]
  • Director, W.H.O Collaborating Centre for Policy and Training on Access to Pain Relief (Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences)[20]
  • Member, Advisory Committee on Palliative Care, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
  • Member, Governing council, Kerala University of Health Sciences (2014-2018)
  • Member, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation Board[21]
  • 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)

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.

Current involvement with scientific journals:

  • Member, Editorial Board, Indian Journal of Palliative Care.[22]
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.[23]
  • Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy.
  • Member, Editorial Board, Palliative Care: Research and Treatment.[24]
  • Member, Editorial Board, Pain: Clinical Updates; International Association for Study of Pain.[25]


Rajagopal is one of the founders of Pain and Palliative Care Society (PPCS) in Medical College, Calicut, in 1993.[26] In 1995, PPCS was recognized as a model demonstration project by the World Health Organisation, known for its suitability to the socio-cultural needs of the country, for its novel training programs and for its roots in the community. Over ten years, it developed into the biggest Palliative Care Centre in the country incorporating a major “Institute of Palliative Medicine” (IPM), with more than 60 link centres in various parts of Kerala.

Since 1996, Rajagopal has been working with the WHO Collaborating Center at Madison-Wisconsin and with Government of India to improve opioid availability in India. The work has so far resulted in simplification of narcotic regulations in 13 states in India as well as in uninterrupted availability of oral morphine from the Government Opium and Alkaloid factories in India.

In 2003, he with his colleagues created Pallium India, a registered charitable trust with the intention of spreading palliative care to areas in India where they did not exist, and for palliative care advocacy. In 2016, the organization has reached 15 of India's 29 states. In 2006, Pallium India created the Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences as its training, research and clinical demonstration unit. In 2012, this was declared a WHO Collaborating Centre.

Rajagopal is a prime mover in the development of the document, “National Standards for Palliative Care in India” in 2006-2008.

Dr. Rajagopal is one of the five lead authors of the Lancet Commission report published in October 2017[27], which pointed out that more than 61 million people live in pain and suffering worldwide every year without access to palliative care. The report describes a possible global strategy for correction in this huge inequity in care and suggests and a low-cost essential package which could remedy the situation.[28][29][30]

Rajagopal's contribution has been significant in bringing the Parliament of India to amend the draconian Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985. The Amendment was passed in 2014 Feb.[31][32][33]

Rajagopal introduced Incident Monitoring as a method of medical auditing in Anaesthesiology in Calicut, which was later spread to other institutions, thereby improving quality and safety of anaesthetic practice in the region and later in Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences. In collaboration with the Department of Paediatric Surgery, Medical College, Trivandrum, Rajagopal undertook a study on “Mortality in Major Neonatal Surgery” between 1976 and 1980. During this period, mortality after major neonatal surgery could be brought down from 75% to 28%. Rajagopal organised anaesthesia service for open-heart surgery in Medical College, Trivandrum, Kerala in 1978.

In 2017, Rajagopal was named one of the 30 most influential leaders in hospice and palliative medicine by American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM).[34]

Awards and honours[edit]

Rajagopal has been honoured with the following awards and recognitions:

  • Government of India's Padma Shri award in 2018
  • Visionary in Hospice and Palliative Medicine by American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine[35]
  • Healers of India award instituted by Appollo Hospitals and Network18.[36][37][38]
  • Navjeevan Inspiration of the Year award.[39]
  • T.N.G Award conferred in memory of T. N. Gopakumar, the late Editor in Chief of Asianet News, in January 2017.[40][41][42]
  • Cancer Aid Society Annual Award for Excellence and Leadership in Palliative Care for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Countries[43]
  • Pratheeksha Award from Pratheeksha Charitable Society, Koottanad, 2015.
  • Kairali People Doctors Award, 2015.[44]
  • Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism by Human Rights Watch in 2014.[45]
  • Dr MIMS India for Excellence in Health care, from MIMS Calicut, 2014.
  • Social Excellence Award; Indian Society of Anesthesiologists, Cochin. 2014.
  • K. C. Vamadevan award for Social Service, January 2014.
  • V.K.Velayudhan Memorial award to Pallium India for contributions to “Palliative Health Care” 2013.
  • Abundance India award to Pallium India for social service, 2013
  • Dr Palpu Memorial award, Dr Palpu Foundation, November 2012[46]
  • Ranbaxy Public Health award, Ranbaxy foundation, February 2012[47]
  • Award for Excellence in Pain Management in Developing Countries: International Association for Study of Pain, Montreal, Canada. October 2009 [48][49]
  • Silver citizen award, Silver Line Publications, Trivandrum, 19 April 2009 to Rajagopal
  • Marie Nyswander award, International Association for Pain and Chemical Dependency, New York, 31 October 2008[50]
  • "Care and Share" annual award for Social work. "Care and Share", USA , February 2007.[51]
  • Citation of Indian Association of Palliative care, Annual International Conference of Indian Association of Palliative Care, Chennai, February 2006.


  1. ^ "Caring for the Terminally Ill and Those in Pain, This Man Has Helped Thousands". The Better India. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  2. ^ "The extraordinary doctor who makes a difference". Rediff.com. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  3. ^ "In India, a Quest to Ease the Pain of the Dying". New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  4. ^ "The father of palliative care: Dr Raj". ABC Radio Perth. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  5. ^ "On Dying Happy, On Dying Well". Saritorial.com. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  6. ^ "M. R. Rajagopal, MD". International Palliative Care Resource Centre. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  7. ^ "A Visit with The Father of Palliative Care in India". Global Health Immersion Programs. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  8. ^ "MR Rajagopal: The man who spearheaded efforts to improve access to morphine". The Economic Times. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  9. ^ "M. R. Rajagopal". International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care (IAHPC). Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Government announces recipients of 2018 Padma awards". Times of India. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Padma awards for 'unsung heroes'". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Hippocratic". Hippocratic Film. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Man on a mission to reduce unnecessary suffering". Palliative Care Australia. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Film review: Hippocratic – 18 Experiments in Gently Shaking the World". eHospice International. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  15. ^ "India's father of palliative care gently shakes Australia with his insights and wisdom". Palliative Care Australia. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  16. ^ "The Hippocratic Oath". ehospice Kenya. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  17. ^ "A Push for Balanced Drug Policy Is Transforming Pain Relief in India". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  18. ^ "Rights Activists Honored". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Kerala, a role model in palliative care". The Hindu. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  20. ^ "TIPS declared as a WHO Collaborating Centre". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation Board". Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Indian Journal of Palliative Care Editorial Board". Indian Journal of Palliative Care. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  23. ^ "Journal of Pain and Symptom Management Editorial Board". Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  24. ^ "Palliative Care: Research and Treatment". LA Press. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  25. ^ "PAIN: Clinical Updates". International Association for the Study of Pain. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  26. ^ "Doctor Who Takes Pain Out of Terminal Ailments". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  27. ^ "Alleviating the access abyss in palliative care and pain relief—an imperative of universal health coverage: the Lancet Commission report". The Lancet. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  28. ^ "Study rues inequity in access to pain relief". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  29. ^ "World Palliative Care Day: 'Palliative care inadequate'". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  30. ^ "Study puts a count to suffering people in need of palliative care". The Indian Express. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  31. ^ "A fight for life and death with dignity". The Indian Express. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  32. ^ "Passing of NDPS Act Amendment Bill will make morphine more accessible". The Hindu. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  33. ^ "Why cancer patients are cheering a recent change in the narcotics law". ScrollIn News. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  34. ^ "Visionaries in Hospice and Palliative Medicine". American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  35. ^ "US honour for Pallium India founder". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  36. ^ "Honoured". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  37. ^ "Apollo Hospitals in partnership with Network18 celebrate the 'Healers of India' at a gala event in New Delhi". Appollo Hospitals. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  38. ^ "Network18 and Apollo Hospitals Felicitate the Champions of Rural Healthcare with 'Healers of India' Awards". Country and Politics. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  39. ^ "Dr M.R.Rajagopal receives Navjeevan Inspiration of the Year award". Pallium India. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  40. ^ "TNG Award". Asianet News TV. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  41. ^ "Dr MR Rajagopal wins TNG award". Times of India. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  42. ^ "TNG award for palliative care physician Dr M R Rajagopal". Business Standard. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  43. ^ "Pallium India receives award for excellence and leadership in palliative care". ehospice. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  44. ^ "People Doctors Awards Declared". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  45. ^ "Alison Des Forges Award". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  46. ^ "Dr Palpu Award". The Hindu. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  47. ^ "Ranbaxy Public Health Award". India Medical Times. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  48. ^ "IASP's award for Excellence in Pain Research and Management". The Hindu. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  49. ^ "IASP award for Excellence in Pain Management and Research in Developing Countries". IASP. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  50. ^ "Marie Nyswander award". Reuters. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  51. ^ "Care and Share Humanitarian Award". Care and Share. Retrieved 20 June 2014.

External links[edit]