Palliative care: The other opioid issue

From Nature

The ‘war on drugs’ has left many in developing nations with no access to strong painkillers. More than 5 billion people worldwide cannot get the medical opioids that they need. That is a staggering amount of unnecessary agony. – WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!

Jim Cleary, an oncologist and palliative-care specialist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison – “Patients with pain have been unwitting victims of the war on drugs,” he says. The US-led war on drugs that followed resulted in widespread reluctance to prescribe and supply opioids for fear that patients would become addicted or overdose, or that drug cartels would divert opioids to the black market. Cleary says that countries such as the United States have an “unbalanced” opioid situation, and that abuse in these countries has distorted policies elsewhere, restricting legitimate access.

“It’s about the government and society at large accepting that while we have a responsibility to prevent abuse and diversion of opiates, we also have a responsibility to people in pain,” says former anaesthesiologist M. R. Rajagopal, who is a founder of palliative-care charity Pallium India in Thiruvananthapuram. Read more about the issue here.

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Please also check out “Life Asked Death” developing palliative care in Asia, a film on the Lien Collaborative Project by Lien Foundation and the APHN to find out what we are doing in other parts of Asia to relieve pain and suffering.