Moderate or severe pain is common among people with advanced cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Yet despite agreement that pain relief is a human right, the poorest 80% of the world's population rarely have access to strong opioid analgesics. Excessively restrictive opioid policies, especially in developing countries, both stem from and propagate misguided fears about opioids, so-called opiophobia.
Globally, cancer incidence and mortality are increasing, and most of the burden is shifting to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where patients often present with late-stage disease and severe pain. Unfortunately, LMICs also face a disproportionate lack of access to pain-relieving medicines such as morphine, despite the medical and scientific literature that shows morphine to be effective to treat moderate and severe cancer pain.
Access to palliative care is insufficient in many countries around the world. In an effort to improve access to palliative care services and treatments, a public health approach as suggested by the World Health Organization was implemented in Colombia to improve opioid availability, increase awareness and competences about palliative care for healthcare workers, and to include palliative care as a component of care in legislation.
Latin America consumes less than 2.7% of the morphine in the world, as reported by the governments to the International Narcotics Control Board. Methods to improve access to opioids for the treatment of pain have been developed by the Pain & Policy Studies Group (PPSG), a World Health Organization Collaborating Center at the University of Wisconsin. This article describes the preparation and implementation of an action plan in Colombia as a part of an international fellowship program on opioid policy developed by the PPSG and funded by the Open Society Institute.
The Pain & Policy Studies Group (PPSG) / World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Pain Policy in Palliative Care is excited to announce its collaboration on a pilot program with the African Palliative Care Association (APCA) to train in-country champions to improve patient access to pain medicines. To build on its well-established International Pain Policy Fellowship (IPPF) program, funding has been received from the National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health) to develop an African Pain Policy Fellowship (APPF).
The Pain & Policy Studies Group (PPSG) / World Health Organization Collaborating Center is very pleased to announce the selection of ten Fellows for its Cohort III International Pain Policy Fellowship (IPPF) program. Built on the success of the previous two cohorts of this program in 2006 and 2008, LIVESTRONG (Lance Armstrong Foundation) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) International Palliative Care Initiative are providing major funding to support these Fellows for a two-year project.
About the IPPF
Established in 2006, the International Pain Policy Fellowship (IPPF) empowers emerging leaders from low- and middle-income countries to identify and overcome barriers to the use of opioids for pain control or palliative care in their countries.