The what, why and how of health and development

Uganda: No Country for Old Men

It’s cheap, easy to administer, and incredibly effective at taking away someones pain. Morphine, the main medicinal opioid used for pain management and in palliative care, is listed as an essential medicine by the WHO. It should, therefore, be kept in stock by hospices, hospitals and health departments around the world.

But in poorer countries, people are being denied their right to a life without pain because of strict narcotic control laws that prevent the easy importation, production and distribution of opioids. Often coping with weak drug regulatory systems and stretched resources, these countries don’t have the capacity to develop systems that would allow morphine to be imported whilst adhering to the strict international regulations on the distribution of opioids. Coupled with a misunderstanding of morphine by some health professionals due to unfounded fears of patient addiction, access to these essential drugs is limited. It’s estimated that 80% of the world’s population lacks access to this medicine, many of whom live in low and middle income countries. These countries account for 70% of cancer related deaths and 99% of HIV related deaths, yet they consume just 6% of the world’s medicinal opioids.

This award-winning documentary from Declan MacErlane shows how the denial of morphine impacts on people living with cancer and their families in Uganda. Interviewing leaders in the field of palliative care and pain management, Declan also showcases some of the pioneering work being done to change the situation in the country. Watch below and please share far and wide, folks!

Uganda: No Country for Old Men

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One Comment on “Uganda: No Country for Old Men”

  1. This is a very moving account of Hospice care in Africa.Although one can see there is still so much to be done what has been achieved so far is inspiring.


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