Published on: July 1, 2011

Short Film 7 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 Torture In Health Care we learn about the Stop Torture In Health Care campaign (an Open Society Foundations initiative). Dr Kathleen Foley (USA) from the OSF International Palliative Care Initiative poses the question; “What is the solution to torture in health care?”

Various leaders in the fields of pain control and palliative care debate whether torture is actually taking place in health services around the world.

“There is a difference between torture and not acting,” points out Dr Willem Scholten (World Health Organization).

“People are very hung up on the torture word,” reflects Mary Callaway (USA). The sentiments of Dr Liz Gwyther (South Africa) and Dr Snezana Bosnjak (Serbia) reiterate the sensitivity around the language of torture.

Dr MR Rajagopal (India) tells the harrowing story of a former patient who threatened to commit suicide in front of his health clinic when stocks of morphine ran out. “It is torture when we willfully refuse to do something about it.”

Eugene Murray (Ireland) supports this position. “What can be more degrading to a person than to have them in severe pain when they’re dying… It is torture by neglect.”

Dr Kathleen Foley identifies that the issue of fundamental human rights becomes a consideration when we consider the failure to deliver satisfactory pain control as an act of torture.

“I think people are suffering and should people have to suffer unnecessarily?” asks Dr Jim Cleary (Australia). “All around the world people are suffering and they shouldn’t have to.”

Featuring Dr Kathleen Foley (USA), Dr Willem Scholten (World Health Organization), Dr Liz Gwyther (South Africa), Dr Snezana Bosnjak (Serbia), Mary Callaway (USA), Dr MR Rajagopal (India), Eugene Murray (Ireland), Dr Jim Cleary (Australia).

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