Dr. M.R. Rajagopal was born in Trivandrum in Kerala, India and graduated from Trivandrum Medical College. He did his post-graduation in Anesthesiology from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. While working as Professor and Head of Anesthesiology in Calicut Medical College, he with his colleagues founded the Pain and Palliative Care Society in 1003 offering free pain management and palliative care to poor patients. In 1995, this was declared a WHO demonstration project and grew to the present Institute of Palliative Medicine with a network of over 100 palliative care centers in the state of Kerala. This initiative resulted in palliative care reaching about 40% of the needy in Kerala compared to the national average of less than 1%.
Currently, he is the director of the WHO Collaborating Center at Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences and the founder-chairman of “Pallium India”, a trust that he founded to improve access to palliative care in India, focusing on balancing increased coverage with improved quality. His initiative has also led to the development of a Government policy on Palliative Care in the state of Kerala in 2008.
He also works with the WHO Collaborating Center at Pain and Policy Studies Group (PPSG) in Madison-Wisconsin and with the Access to Essential Medicines program of WHO, to remove regulatory barriers in availability of oral morphine for pain relief. Over a 15 year period, this resulted in simplification of narcotic regulations in 17 of India’s 28 states.
Dr. Rajagopal is a life time advisor to the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) and is the vice chairman of Asia Pacific Hospice Network (APHN). He is a member of the International Experts’ Committee of the WHO Collaborating Center at Madison-Wisconsin. He is also an Associate faculty member of the Institute of Palliative Medicine at San Diego, USA. He 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.
The New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2007/09/11/health/11pain.html) wrote an article which described his work in 2007. In 2008, the International Association for Pain and Chemical Dependency honored him at Philadelphia with the Marie Nyswander Award for his contributions to the field of pain management. In 2010, International Association for Study of Pain (IASP) honored him with its award for excellence in pain management in developing countries, at the World Pain Congress at Montreal. He was also the recipient of the Ranbaxy Science Foundation Award for Public Health of 2012.