Indian palliative care experts call for better access to medical morphine

Categories: In The Media and Policy.

Currently there are 200 000 cancer patients across the two states, of whom 160 000 will need morphine at some stage in their illness. This figure does not include those with diseases other than cancer who suffer severe pain.

Hospitals need permits from multiple government agencies in order to stock the essential medicine, and these must be renewed regularly, making it difficult for the hospitals to keep up.

Manjula Bhagvatul, president of the Pain Relief Palliative Care Society, said: “At present, (only) Regional Cancer Centres like MNJ Cancer Hospital have such multiple permits. So, a cancer patient from a far-off place needing pain relief has to come to Hyderabad for access of medication. There should be a concerted effort from the government and NGOs to make things easy.”

Adequate supply of morphine is only one step in the direction of proper pain control. 

Gayatri Palat, director of Palliative Access Programme, India, said: “There is a demand for medical morphine from patients. However, doctors from private hospitals in Hyderabad avoid prescribing it. In the end, patients die with a lot of pain. There is no awareness about palliative care even among healthcare providers.”

Healthcare providers need to be educated in prescribing painkillers, and proper palliative care before all patients’ have their pain and symptoms managed adequately.

Read more on the website of The Hindu.

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