Published on: September 11, 2010

Community health worker examines a child © 2010 Brent Foster

When a child is in agonizing pain, if you have the means at your disposal to relieve that pain safely, yet refuse to use them, is that not tantamount to torture?!

If you think the following story from Kenya is not relevant to India or to the rest of the developing world, sorry, you are mistaken.

Here are a couple of quotes from the British Medical Journal article “Restrictive government policies leave Kenyan children dying in pain” (BMJ 2010; 341:c4864 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c4864, 9/9/10):

One doctor treating children with cancer in Nairobi told researchers, “People have no problems with relieving pain in adults with morphine, but when it comes to children there is always some reservation. Putting a child on morphine is always a big issue.”


A nurse from Bondo district hospital said, “We have no pethidine, no DF118 [dihydrocodeine], and no morphine. We have children here with advanced HIV; some are in severe pain. The pain management for children with advanced HIV is not enough.”

The BMJ article refers to a 78-page report by Human Rights Watch “Needless Pain: Government Failure to Provide Palliative Care for Children in Kenya”.

Accompanying the report, HRW has two powerful videos from Kenya telling the story of Jethro and Sammy, WATCH them here…

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