health

Cancer patients in poor countries needlessly denied pain relief: WHO

4 Comments
By Stephanie Nebehay

Cancer patients in developing nations are being denied basic pain relief, often because of excessive fears about opioid abuse, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

Two-thirds of industrialised countries have oral morphine, an opioid widely used to lessen severe pain, available in more than half of their pharmacies, against only 6 percent of poor countries, WHO expert Dr Cherian Varghese said.

The United Nations agency was issuing new guidelines for health authorities worldwide to manage the pain that affects 55 per cent of cancer patients undergoing treatment and two-thirds of those with advanced or terminal cancer.

"Nobody, cancer patients or not cancer patients, should live or die in pain in the 21st century," Dr Etienne Krug, director of WHO's department of noncommunicable diseases, told a briefing.

"In some parts of the world ... these drugs circulate too freely and are used for addictions," he added. "There is a real, justified fear of that, but it should not come at the expense of those who live in pain or die in pain."

An opioid overdose epidemic raging in the United States, caused in part by over-prescription, claimed more than 49,000 lives last year, fuelling fears of addiction elsewhere.

The WHO guidelines prescribe strict safeguards for the administration of addictive substances such as morphine but say that oral morphine is "essential treatment for moderate to severe cancer pain".

There are 18.1 million new cancer cases in the world every year and one in six deaths - about 9.6 million - are from the disease, the WHO said in a report for World Cancer Day on Feb 4.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

4 Comments
Login to comment

Japan has one of the lowest levels of opiate use amongst the top 20 developed countries, leaving many terminally patients in agony, despite a 2007 campaign to increase their use and care better for patients. They seem to prefer weaker non-opiate solutions, along with large doses of gaman, and I have even seen traditional folklore remedies such as ginger and potato paste applied to a patient's skin by a relative in a university hospital here.

Post-operative pain relief here also leaves much to be desired, despite data showing that adequate post-op pain relief helps the patient to a quicker recovery.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan has the exact opposite problem as America, where doctors hand out pain killers willy-nilly; The health system here doesn’t allow for prescription of pain killers. It’s a problem as the body takes longer to heal wirh pain.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"Nobody, cancer patients or not cancer patients, should live or die in pain in the 21st century," Dr Etienne Krug, director of WHO's department of noncommunicable diseases, told a briefing.

What about CBD oil then? It might go some way in helping patients relieve their pain.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What about CBD oil then? It might go some way in helping patients relieve their pain.

It exists here to some degree. I recently bought a CBD vape pen in Shibuya.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites