Global Palliative Care Community Highlights

2016; Volume 17, No 3, March

Global Palliative Care Community Highlights – initiatives and newsbites from across the world

Morocco: Thousands face needless suffering at end of life

Patients and their relatives waiting outside Morocco’s National Institute of Oncology in Rabat, Morocco. © 2014 Matt Simon/Human Rights Watch

Pain Tears Me Apart: Challenges and Progress in Ensuring the Right to Palliative Care in Morocco is the latest in a series of nine publications from Human Rights Watch on how countries are providing healthcare services for people with incurable illnesses. The report, published on 4 February to coincide with World Cancer Day, says that although the Moroccan government has taken a number of important steps to improve end-of-life care only two public hospitals, in Casablanca and Rabat, have specific units that offer this essential health service, and only to cancer patients. Patients suffering severe pain outside of these cities must either undergo difficult travel to these centers or do without effective pain medicine.

The report also says that only one in five people who need morphine for chronic pain due to illness receive it, and that there is no palliative care available for 40,000 Moroccans with heart, lung and renal diseases.

“Morocco has an opportunity to become a leader in palliative care in the Francophone African region,” said Dr.Mati Nejmi, a palliative care pioneer in the country. “ But it will need to significantly increase its efforts to ensure these services are available.”

“There is an urgent need for the Moroccan government to expand palliative care services,” said Diederik Lohman, Associate Health Director at Human Rights Watch. “Right now, thousands of people in Morocco with cancer and other serious health conditions are suffering needlessly from treatable symptoms.”

Download the full report here and view Human Rights Watch’s film here (with English sub-titles). The report is also available to download in Arabic and French.

Our thanks to Prof. Mati Nejmi, Centre de médecine de la douleur et de médecine palliative, Hôpital Cheikh Khalifa Ib Zaid, Casablanca, Morocco, and Mr. Diederik Lohman, Associate Health Director at Human Rights Watch, for contributing this information.

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