This is a question asked often but asked again most recently for me at the 2011 EAPC Congress in Lisbon Portugal. Truly a global palliative care meeting with approximately 3000 registrants from 87 countries, this meeting provided opportunities to discuss this question as it applies throughout the globe.
My response: we can grow elements of palliative care without access to morphine or other opioids but we cannot grow palliative care to its fullest without access to morphine, an essential WHO drug, for pain relief.
So pain relief is an essential part of palliative care and we need to ensure access to opioids.
In the second of the “LIfe before death” movies, we see the impact of a small dose of morphine for Lorraine. This is a story we hear around the world, a story we heard in the first film when Raj spoke of a man getting a small dose of morphine (costing only a few rupees) and then able to enjoy a cup of tea. It is the improvement in these small personal things that matter. For Lorraine, her painting, her music and the ability to interact with the daughter. Cancer pain relief is personal (earlier blog: Making global pain relief personal)
The Global Access to Pain Relief Initiative (GAPRI) is the work of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). UICC is targeting pain relief and palliative care not only in cancer, but for all people in need through its activities with the Non-Communicable Disease Alliance. The newly launched internet home for GAPRI is at Treat the Pain.com (http://www.treatthepain.com/). Congratulation to Meg O’Brien for her leadership in this area
A final comment! The aim of this blog, the PPSG and TreatthePain websites, and these movies is to increase awareness of untreated pain and palliative care and to improve the situation globally. You can play your part by both sharing these links and “liking” them. “Liking” raises their internet profile and will give them a greater presence on the web. Please play your part in GAPRI, an important Global Initiative; links are below.
Treat the Pain: http://www.treatthepain.com
Pain and Policy Study Group http://www.painpolicy.wisc.edu
Life before Death: http://www.lifebeforedeath.com
Union for International Cancer Control: http://www.uicc.org