(Guatemala City) – Thousands of patients with advanced illnesses in Guatemala suffer unnecessarily from severe pain because they cannot get appropriate pain medications, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
Ensuring Access to Pain Treatment in Guatemala
The 62-page report, “‘Punishing the Patient’: Ensuring Access to Pain Treatment in Guatemala,” documents how Guatemala’s drug control regulations – meant to prevent drug abuse – make it almost impossible for many patients with cancer and other advanced illnesses to get strong pain medicines like morphine. Patients described their extreme pain and other symptoms and how they struggled to cope with a dim prognosis. They said they had to make visits to multiple doctors because many were unable to adequately treat pain, and many said they faced lengthy travel on crowded buses to reach hospitals that offer pain treatment.
“Many patients in Guatemala face unbearable suffering at the end of life, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Diederik Lohman, acting health director at Human Rights Watch. “With a few simple, inexpensive steps, the government can drastically improve the plight of these patients.”