LIFE Before Death #41: Demand It

2012 March 9
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Short Film 41 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 “Demand It” Dr Natalya Dinat explains the importance of patients demanding their rights.

“Patients are generally taught to be very subservient and grateful, and you can tell people, you can put up posters ‘These are your rights’, they are all over our hospital, but without explaining to people or showing them the consequences of demanding your rights and showing them strategies of how to actually exercise their rights, you’re not going to get anywhere.” Explains Dr Dinat.

“We had an experiment with HIV positive mothers that worked quite well because for the first time women were saying ‘Well doctor please tell me your name, introduce me or are you a doctor? Or are you just someone walking into my room, please close the curtain, I have the right to privacy, I have the right to confidentiality’. So at the beginning my hospital was saying, oh my patients were cheeky, but within nine months people were responding. We didn’t go in with a confrontational attitude but already they were saying ‘this is how it’s done now’ and it’s interesting how easy from a bottom up approach you can institute that”.

Dr Dinat introduces us to cancer patient Godfrey, she explains that he has a one of the more painful types of cancer, cancer of the pancreas. Godfrey tells us about his pain and how he has been managing it with opioid medications. Despite the care and medication he has been receiving we learn that his pain has increased and he is experiencing a ‘five out of five’ level of pain.

“He definitely needs an increase in his morphine, he’s able to tolerate his morphine, he’s very functional on his morphine, he was able to walk around and he was saying he goes to the shops, so he is not knocked out with the morphine, he still has pain there so we still have to increase the morphine” reports Dr Dinat.

“I am trying to cope, cause I’m telling myself, Godfrey you are not going to go down, you’re going up day by day, you’re going to help yourself and I’m trying that everyday” Godfrey tells us.

Dr Henry Ddungu “If people knew their rights, I think there would be an outcry for their needs. If someone knows that by not accessing pain medicines, something wrong is happening and everyone comes together and we all cry out for this, I mean things would be better.”

Featuring: Dr Natalya Dinat (South Africa), Godfrey (South Africa), Dr Henry Ddungu (Uganda)

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



The LIFE Before Death feature film was premiered on 1 February 2012 in Singapore. Pallium India will be screening the film on February 3 in Trivandrum.

Why not organise a screening in your community? GET MORE INFORMATION HERE…

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