For many years, people have been highlighting the problems in the Ukraine with access to opioids. This report was published yesterday in the Kyiv Post and bought to our attention by the Open Society Foundation’s International Palliative Care Initiative. IPCI together with the Ukraine’s International Renaissance Foundation have been working hard to remove this significant barrier to appropriate palliative care.
A Ukrainian health official says authorities are planning to lift tight restrictions for administering opium-based analgesics to cancer-stricken patients.
Unlike most countries where patients receive morphine in tablets, the drug is administered in Ukraine solely in injectable form and only by a professional nurse. The daily dose is limited to 50 milligrams — much less than cancer patients and others suffering from acute pain usually need.
Health Ministry official Yuri Gubsky told the Tonis television channel Thursday that he hopes that morphine in tablets will be officially approved in Ukraine in the coming months and that the daily restriction will be removed.
Ksenia Shapoval, a palliative care expert with the International Renaissance Foundation, says she hopes patients will also be allowed to self-administer injectable morphine.
While it can be easy to be critical of governments, it is important to congratulate the Ukraine Government on this move to offer the Pain and Policy Studies Group continued support in these efforts for increasing access for pain relief.
For those who are unaware of the challenges the Ukraine has faced, there are a number of links.
- Human Rights Watch Ukraine: Provide Treatment for Cancer Pain
- 50 milligrams is not Enough
- Freedom from Pain (Ukraine segment starts at 6:26)