LIFE Before Death #24: Together We Are Stronger
Short Film 24 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 “Together We Are Stronger” we discover the burden of untreated cancer pain and that the collective action required in solving the problem is likely to bring about a broader positive social change that will benefit us all.
“Globally there are many, many people who are in need of pain medications and in need of the skills for controlling pain,” explains Dr Cynthia Goh (Singapore). “I think what we’re trying to do is create a more caring society at every level.”
“Pain relief is a human right,” states Dr Bernard Lapointe (Canada). “A country denying its citizens access to drugs that relieve pain is accepting torture. So as concerned citizens we have to pressure our governments for them to intervene on the international platforms as support access to pain relief.”
“Obviously we do have a social responsibility,” reflects Dr Mary Cardosa (Malaysia). “It’s not just the responsibility of physicians in that everybody has a social responsibility — all health care providers, administrators and society in general.”
“In a civilized society, if you see somebody falling down near you your automatic human response is to give a hand to lift the person up,” explains Dr MR Rajagopal (India). “We’ll do it as an individual but as a collective society we seem to be turning our backs to them. When I say ‘we’, I mean the whole world.”
“You can tell a lot about a country by the way it treats it’s dying,” humors Dr Natalya Dinat (South Africa). “We do owe it to ourselves and our society to ensure that dying is as important a part of life as birth, as growing up.”
“As a society we don’t need to have bad deaths because that’s inhumane,” reflects Dr David Morrison (Canada). “But they do occur and the residual effect of a bad death on a family is really, really difficult.”
“I mean if you want to look at it from a purely selfish stand-point we’re talking about creating a system of care and pain relief that’s going to impact us,” contends Mary Callaway (USA). “All of us are going to die. We’re all going to die from something. And all the people we love are going to die from something.”
“Unless you have a system of care in place, tomorrow when you die, you will also die a miserable death,” states Dr Suresh Kumar (India).
“I absolutely believe that universal access to palliative care is not only an achievable goal and realistic – it’s a human right,” continues Helen Hestral (USA).
“Absolutely, there’s no question about it,” supports Professor Michael Silbermann (Israel). “It’s a matter of letting the right people know and understand and accept this concept.”
“Why should the only concern be teenagers who are stealing drugs and be taking them at parties and not equally concerned with the 72 year old decent farmer with terrible pain from his prostate cancer who takes three of these drugs a day and can work every day?” questions Dr Kathleen Foley (USA).
“In Turkey we are working at the level of the Ministry of Health and it’s accepted. So 80 million people from next month on will have the drugs that are needed. Beautiful.”
“So we now see that these drugs have become available in some countries. We’ve seen that some cancer patients have access to these drugs. Where we see the difficulties is in resource-poor countries where there appears to be no access basically because of this very strong regulatory environment,” continues Dr Foley.
“As human beings we should not be able to stand by and watch people suffer when we have the tools to relieve that suffering,” concludes Dr Meg O’Brien (USA). “It’s as basic as that. It’s the equivalent of watching someone getting mugged in an alley and we’re all standing around watching and everyone seems to be waiting for someone to do something. And at the end of the day I think the answer is that it’s up to us to do it.”