In her report, Angela states “…for six months Abdoulaye had no morphine – a standard part of treatment in many parts of the world. When he arrived in the cancer ward, he received a few doses of the painkiller. Then Senegal ran short of morphine.
Because of the pain, Abdoulaye couldn’t speak. His feet and body were swollen from the cancer. He cried constantly, and would shriek whenever anyone lifted him.
Morphine was still in short supply when Abdoulaye died a month later. His excruciating pain at the end could have been erased with the mere pennies it would cost for a dose of morphine.”
Morphine is an essential and inexpensive medication for severe pain, but Senegal only imports about one kilogram of morphine each year – enough to treat about 200 cancer patients.
The shortfall came about because the country’s national pharmacy, where hospitals and health facilities get most drugs, does not import oral morphine, and restrictive regulations make it very difficult for patients to obtain the drug.Doctors in Senegal have been taught that morphine is a dangerous narcotic to be used only in extreme circumstances. AS a result, morphine is virtually never available outside of the capital, Dakar, where there are frequent shortages. Most Senegalese don’t know about morphine and many rural poor think no one can help their pain.
Click here to read the full story on the Human Rights watch website and to download the report: Abandoned in Agony – Cancer and the struggle for Pain Treatment in Senegal