Published on: August 9, 2011

It is gratifying to note, from the latest World Health Organization’s Access and Control newsletter, that persistent pain in children is receiving international attention.

One of the most painful sights in many hospitals is that of children with cancer, HIV, burns or other accidents – all going through intolerable and needless pain.

WHO’s Research Agenda for the Treatment of Pain in Children

The World Health Organization aims to revise and publish an updated version of the 1998 guidelines Cancer Pain Relief and Palliative Care in Children (pdf) with an addition of other medical conditions with persisting pain: later this year, the WHO Guidelines on the Pharmacological Treatment of Persisting Pain in Children with Medical Illnesses will be published.

A part of this guideline entails WHO’s research agenda, which highlights critical research topics of paediatric pain treatment. The research agenda was recently published. The article calls on researchers to focus their studies on one of the proposed topics.

Download: WHO Calls for Targeted Research on the Pharmacological Treatment of Persisting Pain in Children with Medical Illnesses (pdf)

Research areas that need critical attention are: clinical studies on paracetamol, NSAIDs and opioid analgesics; clinical studies on adjuvant medicines (antidepressants, gabapentin, and ketamine) for neuropathic pain; safety and dosing of non-opioid and opioid analgesics in different age groups as well as dose conversion of opioids; and pain assessment tools for children.

In addition to the pharmacological research that is proposed in this WHO publication, we hope there will also be enough social research about getting the available science to reach the needy.

Is that not the major cause of unalleviated pain in the world – the failure of available knowledge to reach the needy?

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