LIFE Before Death #19: Fight for the Right

2011 September 23
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Short Film 19 of 50 in the LIFE Before Death documentary series about the global crisis in untreated pain and the dramatic life changing affect palliative care services can deliver to patients and their families around the world.

In “Fight for the Right” we discover that health leaders worldwide are lobbying for pain control to be classified as a fundamental human right for all.

“Society have got to accept that palliative care and pain control is a human right,” implores Eugene Murray (Ireland). “It’s a measure of how civilized a society is. And if a society fails people at this most critical time in their lives, it is not really a civilized society.”

“Is the management of pain a human right?” asks Professor Michael Cousins (Australia). “Most definitely. For example if you look at the UN Declaration of Human Rights it espouses some very important human rights for people, such as access to clean water and air supply, to freedom from hunger, to the right to associate politically and in other ways. But I put it to you that if you have unrelenting pain, day after day, night after night, you can’t enjoy any of those human rights at all.”

“Pain of that sort, when somebody’s forced to roll into a ball and scream and lose interest in one’s own family and surroundings and practically going mad — that’s not life with dignity,” reflects Dr MR Rajagopal (India).

“Pain management is inadequate in most of the world,” reports Professor Cousins. “The WHO reports five billion people have no, or insufficient, access to treatment.”

“The fact that pain can be relieved but is not being relieved is really an insult to humanity and human dignity,” declares Dr Liz Gwyther (South Africa).

“It’s an absolute imperative that the world responds to this need. We are all brothers and sisters. We need to provide the medications that are needed to help people be at peace,” reflects Dr Jay Thomas (USA). “And pain, it keeps people from being able to live life with any quality or die with any dignity. It does seem that it’s a solvable problem when we put enough minds together and you want to get it done. And it needs to be gotten done.”

“These people are dying every moment of the day because the pain is overshadowing who they are,” insists breast cancer patient Carmen (Australia). “I feel for them.”

“I’m not asking for a lot,” says cancer patient Bernard (Singapore). “I just want to live a normal life without pain. And if possible I can do all the basic things like take a bath, change my own clothes, you know, without bothering my wife.”

“The critical question I ask is; ‘how would I want to be treated?'” ponders Dr Jim Cleary (Australia). “And if all physicians actually apply that to themselves — ‘how would I want to be treated?, How would I want my wife to be treated? My mother or my child to be treated’ — you start looking at those issues and start to say — ‘well why aren’t I giving pain control?'”

“Really something that medical professionals around the world will take to heart and understand that they can make a huge difference in a lot of patients lives if they can give them access to the right medicine,” encourages cancer patient Don (USA).

“Everybody has the same and equal right to pain relief,” concludes Dr Natalya Dinat (South Africa).

Featuring Eugene Murray (Ireland), Professor Michael Cousins (Australia), Dr MR Rajagopal (India), Dr Liz Gwyther (South Africa), Dr Jay Thomas (USA), Dr Jim Cleary (Australia), Dr Natalya Dinat (South Africa), Carman (Australia), Bernard (Singapore) and Don (USA).

If you’ve missed previous episodes, catch up on the LIFE Before Death website…

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