Access to essential palliative care medicines for the relief of pain and symptoms is limited to an estimated 10 percent of the world’s population according to the World Health Organization and the 2018 Lancet Commission Report on Pain and Palliative Care
This global health crisis is an issue of great concern to patients, families, and providers in countries where access is an issue, as well as to the UN agencies that oversee public health (the World Health Organization), “narcotic drugs” (the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the International Narcotics Control Board), human rights (the Human Rights Council) and the United Nations General Assembly.
In 2015 the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) https://www.incb.org/incb/en/index.html launched its report “Availability of Internationally Controlled Drugs: Ensuring Adequate Access for Medical and Scientific Purposes”, followed by another report “Progress in Ensuring Adequate Access to Internationally Controlled Substances for Medical and Scientiﬁc purposes” in 2018
The objective of these two reports was to analyse the global, regional, and national situations regarding the consumption of internationally controlled substances. The reports identify the main impediments to adequate availability and provides recommendations on how problems can be addressed. Links to the two Special Reports in all UN languages can be found here.
This year, INCB is preparing another supplementary progress report to be launched in early 2023.This new report will follow up on the recommendations of the 2015 and 2018 Availability Reports and the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document. A questionnaire has been sent to competent national authorities of Member States for the provision of data on the availability of controlled drugs for medical and scientific purposes.
With a view to developing the new report based on the widest possible amount of reliable data, INCB has requested the support from the civil society organizations to provide supplementary information at the national level on the situation in the consumption of and access to internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes.
For the palliative care community, this means access to, and availability of the essential palliative care medicines identified in Section 2 of the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines. https://list.essentialmeds.org/.
Representatives of palliative care organizations, associations, institutions (including academic), or networks should fill out the survey and respond to the best of their knowledge. Please share with your networks. If necessary, please contact your national competent authority or health ministry, or review the INCB data to find out more.
I am happy to help you find out any information you might not yet have at your fingertips. Please email me at email@example.com and I will do my best to assist.
The information and link to the survey is here https://mailchi.mp/vngoc/incb-questionnaire-on-access-to-controlled-medicines?e=5be9511d50.
The 2021-2022 IAHPC Advocacy Course provides accessible background information on the topic. The course includes lists of essential resources for palliative care advocates who may receive a Certificate of Completion once they have participated in all the modules.
The Introductory module of the course, which gives an overview that includes the “drug control system” and INCB, is open access, while modules 2 and 3, which specifically address issues of access to palliative care medicines, is members only. If you are not a member, please join so you can receive all the educational benefits offered by the IAHPC.
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