Experts at UN event call for access to treatment for severe pain

23 Mar 2018
Millions of children and adults in low and middle income countries, inflicted with terminal or life threatening illnesses and suffering from severe physical pain, are unable to access morphine, an effective treatment that is easy and inexpensive to produce.

As a call to action to address this devastating but solvable situation, the Organisation for the Prevention of Intense Suffering (OPIS), a Swiss think-and-do tank, and International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies (IDHDP), held a side event with expert panellists during the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council, titled “Ending the Agony: Access to Morphine as an Ethical and Human Rights Imperative”.

Speaking at the side event were the following expert panellists:

  • Jim Cleary, MD, Executive Director of the Pain & Policy Studies Group (PPSG)
  • Marie-Charlotte Bouësseau, MD, Adviser at the World Health Organisation
  • Heloísa Broggiato, a doctoral researcher carrying out field research on the issue of access to morphine and other opioids in Brazil
  • Cécile Choudja Ouabo, MD, co-head of mission of the paediatric palliative care program at Médecins du Monde Suisse


Jonathan Leighton, Executive Director of OPIS, said, “There is no valid justification for depriving people in severe pain of an effective treatment. We urge governments and health ministries of countries with insufficient access to morphine to take the initiative and make pain relief and palliative care a high priority of their medical systems.”


Sebastian Saville, Executive Director of IDHDP, said, “It is completely unacceptable that over 75% of the world’s population have little or no access to medicines for the treatment of severe pain, while the other 25% take it for granted. It is high time that the red tape that perpetuates this situation becomes a thing of the past.”

See highlights...


As part of the call to action, OPIS has produced a summary guide to the issue of access to morphine.  



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