Dakar, October 24, 2013
Tens of thousands of patients in Senegal suffer from excruciating pain every year without relief, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Unnecessarily restrictive government regulations and poor training for healthcare workers impede their effective medical treatment.
The 85-page report, “Abandoned in Agony: Cancer and the Struggle for Pain Treatment in Senegal,” found that 70,000 Senegalese each year need what is known as palliative care to control symptoms related to chronic, life-threatening diseases. Morphine is an essential and inexpensive medication for treatment of severe pain, but Senegal only imports about one kilogram of morphine each year – enough to treat about 200 cancer patients. Human Rights Watch also found that morphine is unavailable outside of Dakar, Senegal's capital. Frequent shortages limit access to the medication in the capital as well.
Mr. Diederik Lohman senior researcher for health and human rights division at HRW commented on how the government has responded to the report:
"In meetings, government officials welcomed the report and said they would use it to try to improve palliative care. The head of the division for non-communicable diseases told us that Senegal will develop a national NCD strategy and that palliative care would be one of its components. The national pharmacy informed us that it now had budget to purchase morphine centrally and that it was currently working on a contract with a supplier."
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