Saturday, 8 October 2011

Morphine: bureaucratic hurdles and the global war on drugs (19/7/11)

It appears some extremely commendable research into the hidden human rights crisis of medical pain has been undertaken by student of journalism in the University of British Columbia. Graduate students travelled to India, Ukraine and Uganda to investigate how countries around the world deal with suffering patients. Their findings show that "more than half the countries in the world have little to no access to morphine, the gold standard for treating medical pain." What is more, they have discovered that "[u]nlike so many global health problems, pain treatment is not about money or a lack of drugs, since morphine costs pennies per dose and is readily available." Rather it is due to "bureaucratic hurdles, and the chilling effect of the global war on drugs" which are the main impediments to access to morphine.

The full story can be read at
More information about the film "Freedom from Pain" produced by the UBC can be found at

Incidentally, Human Rights Watch produced an article on this issue at almost exactly the same time last year, entitled, "Pain Relief: A Human Right." Lots of useful information along with reports on the state of pallative care in various countries is available from HRW at

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