Managing Pain a Social Imperative

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By Frederick Philander

WINDHOEK

“The relief of individual suffering through the identification, assessment and treatment of pain, as well as other problems – physical, psycho-social and spiritual – is paramount to delivering palliative care,” said American Ambassador, Dennise Mathieu, last week when she officiated at an international advocacy workshop on palliative care in Africa in the capital.

Representatives from various African countries attended the workshop under the theme, A Focus on Essential Pain Medication Accessibility in Southern Africa.

“As African countries scale up the provision of comprehensive and quality palliative care to those living with chronic and terminal illnesses, such as HIV and AIDS and cancer, we need to remember that effective pain management should be central to this process,” she said.

In her opinion, recommended drugs for severe pain control, such as opioids, must be available and accessible to clients enduring pain.

“That is why improving access to essential medications is a key focus of this meeting. You have a difficult challenge: to pool your world class talent and experiences in order to identify policies and program interventions that will increase access to effective pain-reducing drugs, while ensuring their responsible use and distribution,” the ambassador asserted.

“One of our main responsibilities under the President’s Emergency Plan is to support national efforts to scale-up palliative care programs for the growing number of children, adults and family members living with HIV and AIDS. I’m well aware that you face many challenges in your respective countries.

“Furthermore, I applaud your efforts to share lessons learned, consider what more can be done and learn how best to program limited resources to mitigate the impact of uncontrolled pain and suffering on adults and children living with HIV and other illnesses,” she said.

She also expressed her satisfaction with her Government’s continuing partnership with the Namibian Ministry of Health and Social Services to increase access to palliative care throughout Namibia.

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