Morphine: It's About More than Money

Opioids are a cheap option for pain relief during palliative care—but across Africa, morphine shortages are about more than money. The legacy of America’s “war on drugs” in the 1980s and 1990s looms large, leaving behind stubborn stigma, plus prescription restrictions and import barriers that continue to limit morphine’s availability.

In Senegal, patients in need get 13mg of morphine a year; in America they get 55,704mg. In 2012, despite scores of painful AIDS-related deaths, Nigeria imported no morphine, saying it wasn’t needed.

But in Uganda, where palliative care systems have been lauded, morphine access is a key part of the equation. Inexpensive oral morphine has been embraced, nurses are allowed to prescribe it, and government support has helped destigmatize the drug.

The Economist


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