Yes, we can make cancer pain relief personal, but we really need to address the politics of pain.
As you read this, the UN member states continue to negotiate the wording of the UN Declaration on Non Communicable Diseases.
Things are NOT going well according to Richard Smith in a BMJ Editorial published today: “Wobbly” is the term he uses. And why does Richard say this.
- No clear targets.
- Wealthy countries don’t want to commit resources
- Disputes over the risk factors.
- Counteracting lobbying from tobacco, alcohol and food companies.
- Some African countries wanting to keep a focus on Millennium Development Goals.
While I share and understand these concerns, I am equally concerned that Palliative Care will not get the recognition it needs in a comprehensive plan for the management of Non Communicable Diseases. To quote the Onion, a satirical Madison newspaper, “World death rate is holding steady at 100%!” As today’s film highlights, this is not about bad people or people who don’t care. This is about people, people who will be effected by Cancer, other NCDs and Infectious diseases, who are not aware of the problem of the lack of access to opioids for pain relief.
The Non Communicable Disease Alliance is striving to keep palliative care on the agenda as they are with the many other balls they are juggling in this discussion. But as Richard Smith states…
A particular problem for the NCD Alliance, a quickly formed global body of organisations concerned about NCDs, is that the outcome document lacks clear targets, meaning that member states can easily slide away from doing anything. There are also disagreements over follow up and the need for partnerships. The alliance says that its time to “stop being polite.” They want outrage.
We need to join in this outrage and educate all of our leaders on the need. Today we heard that Kenya has announced its National Cancer Control Plan (photos) and it includes Palliative Care (congrats to Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association) and the Kenyan Leadership have committed to attend the Summit in New York. Kenya is showing leadership to East Africa and the world. Let’s not leave them disappointed nor leave the billions of people who lack access to opioids suffering, because of our lack of will.