Access to controlled medicines on the agenda at the World Health Assembly in Geneva

Categories: Policy.

“Limited access to essential medicines for the treatment of pain, palliative care, surgery, substance use disorder and mental and neurological conditions, is one of the least recognized and most egregious tragedies in global health. National and international drug control policies have historically put the focus on restricting access to controlled substances. Unduly restrictive national regulations leave the vast majority of the most vulnerable and marginalized patients in agonizing pain and distress,” writes Dr Pettus in her article for the World Health Organization(WHO). This is an unfortunate reality for 75% of the world’s population that lacks access to controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes.

However progress has been made in the area of improving access to controlled medicines following the drug policy debate at the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) which took place in New York in April, 2016. Recommendations from the UNGASS requires all Member States to develop innovative inter-governmental processes to achieve the 17 goals and their targets. Healthcare providers, government officials and representatives of UN agencies are expected to be involved in ongoing dialogues to improve access to palliative care and other controlled essential medicines. Member States are under pressure to put into practice the recommendations made following the UNGASS 2016.

A few WHO Member States have requested for the public health aspects of the world drug problem to be discussed in the plenary session of the World Health Assembly; the WHO Secretariat will report on the outcomes of the UNGASS to the 69th World Health Assembly for guidance on further activities. Hopefully significant developments will have been made in the world drug problem by UNGASS 2019, where Member States will report on their progress. To read this full article, click here.

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