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Replacing Onerous Procedures Allows Access to Strong Pain Medication

As of today, thousands of cancer patients in Armenia may soon be able to get the pain treatment they need – and to which they have the right – thanks to new regulations the government adopted earlier in November. About 8,000…
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Other Countries in Francophone Africa Should Follow Suit

When it comes to end-of-life care and pain treatment, Francophone Africa has a long way to go. But, Senegal is one country working to change this. A 2012 study found 16 of 22 countries in Francophone Africa have no healthcare…
During a morphine shortage, a cancer patient in Dakar cluthes onto the railing of her hospital bed because she is in pain and the medication she needs is unavailable.
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Other Countries Should Follow Mexico’s Lead

Ensuring good health care at the start of life is a longstanding goal for the global community, and major funding backs efforts to reduce maternal and child deaths. By contrast, health care at the end of life – a need almost as…
Doña Remedios and her daughter at the pharmacy of the National Cancer Institute in Mexico City, Mexico on September 1, 2014 to fill a prescription for morphine. They have to travel for several hours to procure the medication because there are no hospitals
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More than 61 Million Globally Suffer Severe Pain from Advanced Illnesses

Poor people around the world live and die with little or no pain relief or palliative care, a report published today in the medical journal, Lancet, said, calling the fact a “medical, public health, and moral failing and a travesty of…
A palliative care physician assesses a patient’s pain.
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Legal Changes Are Next Step to Get Treatment to Those in Need

About 8,000 people die from cancer in Armenia every year, many spending their last days in excruciating pain. But Armenia has recently taken two important steps toward ending their suffering. In February, the government adopted a…
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Yelitza López’s greatest fear is to face a grave illness without pain relief. That fear is very real to her – López’s mother, Divisay, has advanced cancer and suffers from bouts of severe pain. “I cannot watch her suffer,”…
A woman walks past empty shelves at a drugstore in Caracas, February 23, 2016.
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Urgent Legal Changes Are Next Step to Get Treatment to Those in Need

About 8,000 people die from cancer in Armenia every year, many spending their last days in excruciating pain. But Armenia is taking an important step towards ending their suffering, and the government recently adopted a national strategy to…
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Several years ago I started researching the nearly insurmountable barriers people with advanced cancer face in accessing opioid painkillers in Armenia. I interviewed many people who were dying — in horrible pain. These were devastating interviews, seared…
Gurgen G., who had a brain tumor, and his mother. Gurgen participated in a palliative care pilot project, which improved the quality of his remaining life. He died in August 2012, free from pain.
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In April, the United Nations General Assembly will review the international response to drugs for the first time in 18 years. An issue that has been neglected for decades – ensuring access to controlled substances for medical treatment, such as pain…
A shipment of oral morphine pills arrived at Dakar's Dantec Hospital in July 2013, after a shortage.
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As people live longer, healthcare systems face an important challenge: caring for more and more people who suffer from pain, shortness of breath, nausea, anxiety, and depression because of advanced chronic illnesses. If not treated adequately, these…
Ending Needless Suffering in Francophone Africa
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Prompted by a seemingly endless string of stories about suicides by people suffering from cancer pain, the Russian government has finally been pressured into acting - by barring the media from reporting on the issue. The story begins with a February 20…
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A new United Nations report estimates that about 5.5 billion people – a staggering 75 percent of the world’s population – have limited or no access to proper pain relief treatment. Pain is a very common symptom in people with illnesses like cancer and HIV…
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It’s rare that a high-level Russian official takes a public stand for justice vis-a-vis the law enforcement establishment. But Russia’s health minister did just that. The minister, Veronika Skvorstova, publicly endorsed the acquittal of a…
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2014 Recipient of the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism

Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people…
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No one should die like Bineta Ndeye. I was shocked back into remembrance of this brave, little girl as I previewed a new documentary on the needless suffering of children in pain in Senegal. The documentary was shot by Unreported World, a…