National conference on palliative care and pain relief scheduled for 2-3 December 2019 in Ouagadougou

2 December, 2019

With thanks to Isabelle Wachsmuth, moderator of HIFA-French. Extracts below and a comment from me. Read online: https://www.preventsuffering.org/burkina/

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OPIS is collaborating with Hospice Burkina, the palliative care association of Burkina Faso, to promote access to morphine to all patients in need. Hospice Burkina was founded in 2017 by Dr. Martin Lankoande, an anaesthesiologist who observed the intense human suffering caused by a lack of access to morphine and palliative care in Burkina Faso, a medium-sized country in West Africa. This is a problem that plagues most low- and middle-income countries, as described in detail in the 2017 Lancet Commission report [https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)32513-8/fulltext

]. Through Hospice Burkina, which has about two dozen volunteers representing a range of professions with complementary expertise, Dr. Lankoande hopes to help change the medical system in his country to make the relief of pain and suffering a high priority, and ensure that everyone in need obtains effective pain relief.

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Comment (Neil PW): Lack of access to adequate pain relief is a massive issue. Millions of people every year are left in agony through lack of access to morphine. This is partly driven by misperceptions that opiates that opiates are 'bad' and will cause dependence, when in fact research has shown a low risk of drug dependence among patients in palliative care.

'As The Lancet paper shows: 'Poor people in all parts of the world live and die with little or no palliative care or pain relief. Staring into this access abyss, one sees the depth of extreme suffering in the cruel face of poverty and inequity. The fact that access to such an inexpensive, essential, and effective intervention is denied to most patients in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) and in particular to poor people — including many poor or otherwise vulnerable people in high-income countries — is a medical, public health, and moral failing and a travesty of justice...

'Several barriers explain this neglect: the focus of existing measures of health outcomes—major drivers of policy and investment—on extending life and productivity with little weight given to health interventions that alleviate pain or increase dignity at the end of life; opiophobia, which refers to prejudice and misinformation about the appropriate medical use of opioids...'

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org