Published on: March 29, 2022

Historically, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) had concentrated on prevention of inappropriate and non-medical use of opioid medicines. In a refreshingly welcome initiative, the recent convention of CND emphasised the need for balance, to make essential opioid medicines for pain relief.

Notwithstanding the universally recognised medical indispensability of opioid medicines for pain relief, millions across the world suffer due to lack of access to them.

“It is critical that we position in public health and human rights at the centre of the international drug policy dialogue,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General. The availability of internationally controlled substances for medical and scientific purposes, including for the relief of pain and palliative care, remained low to non-existent in many parts of the world.

In a short video highlighting their concern, experts shared their opinion on the current drugs shortage.

The 65th CND launched an initiative ‘No patient left behind’ aiming at ensuring patients who need painkillers or narcotic drugs for their medical condition world over can have a better access and availability of the required drugs.

It is necessary to improve access, without which people suffer in terrible, preventable pain, said Katherine Pettus, spokesperson for the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC). “It is not just for pain and palliative care, these are essential medicines on the WHO Model List, supposed to be available in every health system in the world. It needs to be part of the health budget and it needs to be part of the balanced drug control policy,” she said.

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