Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 30-31

Palliative care education by Munnabhai MBBS

Greenfield Centre, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Santosh Chaturvedi
Greenfield Centre, Stoke-on-Trent
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Chaturvedi S. Palliative care education by Munnabhai MBBS. Indian J Palliat Care 2004;10:30-1

How to cite this URL:
Chaturvedi S. Palliative care education by Munnabhai MBBS. Indian J Palliat Care [serial online] 2004 [cited 2021 Jan 27];10:30-1. Available from:

It is a challenging task to educate the general public and health care professionals about palliative care. One often meets resistance or discouragement. Discussing the care of the terminally ill and issues related to dying with patients and their families is a sensitive task for palliative care professionals. They have found it even more difficult to sensitise health care professionals about adequate pain and symptom relief, about communication issues and collusion, and about giving thought to the patient's quality of life. The recent Hindi Bollywood comedy Munnabhai MBBS seems to achieve this difficult task effortlessly, quietly and in a most entertaining manner! Breaking bad news, collusion, dignity and quality of life, and staff stress are some of the important palliative care themes which emerge in this movie.

Some common problems related to the difficulty of communication are depicted in this film. For example, a doctor asks a young boy who is unaware of his cancer whether anybody from his family can come and see the doctor. Then the doctor mumbles that the boy should have come earlier. The patient asks why he should have come earlier, and so the bad news is broken without much preparation and the doctor is in deep trouble. Other common and difficult questions follow - questions like "how much time do I have?" And "why me?" Of course, the doctor has no clue on how to respond and the movie reiterates how important it is for health professionals to have good communication skills. The actual methods employed by the hero to improve this dying person's quality of life can hardly be recommended, but the lesson is clear - meeting simple requests and needs can go a long way. There is the usual Bollywood dance sequence with song lyrics that remind us that "one should live twice as intensely when life is short," and that one should "add life in moments rather than add years to life" - so apt for palliative care and so reminiscent of the saying "add life to years and not years to life."

The movie also emphasises the patient's dignity and the need to address him by his name rather than calling him a "subject" as a doctor in this movie did. Similarly, the movie shows how respecting colleagues showing gratitude, and acknowledging the role of each person in an organisation goes a long way in the prevention of staff stress. There are also humorous illustrations of how tension, stress, and life's troubles can be handled by a hug, a simple touch, and some empathy. The movie also makes the point that during emergencies, attending to the patient immediately is more important than filling up forms and getting tied down by formalities.

Most of the Hindi speaking populace has probably seen this film. It is a must for all those involved in palliative care because it offers some common sense tips for palliative care education and practice.

This movie borrows from 'Patch Adams', another movie for those who are interested not only in cure, but in care.


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Online since 1st October '05
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow