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International Community Must Work To Improve Access To Palliative Care In Developing Countries

Devex: Opinion: Africa needs investment in palliative care
John Rhee, medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Emmanuel Luyirika, executive director of the African Palliative Care Association

“…Dwindling aid budgets will continue to disrupt necessary end-of-life and palliative services for patients in Africa. Many programs have already been forced to scale back due to reduced foreign aid budgets. … Global actors and stakeholders can focus efforts on increasing access to palliative care in Africa, using the model of the World Health Organization’s public health strategy for palliative care: 1. Palliative care-specialized services … 2. Education … 3. Policies … 4. Medicines … Due to this shifting landscape and overall decreases in funding, governments in Africa will need to increase the share of funding for palliative care. Not doing so will result in millions dying with minimal-to-no access to palliative care and pain management…” (1/3).

Project Syndicate: Prisoners of Pain
Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University and laureate professor at the University of Melbourne

“…Last October, the Lancet Commission on Palliative Care and Pain Relief issued an impressive 64-page report arguing that relieving severe pain is a ‘global health and equity imperative.’ … Each year 25.5 million people die in agony for lack of morphine or a similarly strong painkiller. Only 14 percent of the 40 million people requiring palliative care receive it. … People suffer because relieving pain is not a public policy priority. There are three main explanations for this. For starters, medicine is more focused on keeping people alive than on maintaining their quality of life. And patients suffering a few months of agony at the end of life are often not well positioned to demand better treatment. Third, and perhaps most important, is opiophobia. … While opioids can be harmful and addictive, as America’s current crisis demonstrates, the fact that something can be dangerous is not sufficient reason to impose extreme restrictions on its clinical use. … This is not merely foolish; in the words of the Lancet Commission, it is also a ‘medical, public health, and moral failing and a travesty of justice'” (1/8).

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