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UICC World Cancer Congress 2006
Bridging the Gap: Transforming Knowledge into Action
July 8-12, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
In 2000, WHO developed Guidelines for Achieving Balance in National Opioids Control Policy to improve patient access to opioid pain medications. The Pain and Policy Studies Group has been developing methods, tools and projects to address regulatory barriers. PPSG evaluates national policies and drug distribution systems using a model that is familiar to health professionals: examination; diagnosis; treatment; monitoring; evaluation. In consultation with the WHO, PPSG has developed several collaborative projects that have resulted in policy change, including India and Romania.
In India, a 1985 anti-narcotics law almost completely erased the use of morphine; a generation of doctors was educated without its availability. Today, after a decade of effort by palliative care leaders working closely with their national and state governments, a number of policy changes have been made. The journey to make opioid analgesics accessible for palliative care has begun. In the state of Kerala, population 32 million, the narcotics rules have been simplified. Community-based palliative care programs now have continuous access to inexpensive oral morphine and are spreading across the state. An evaluation demonstrated that increased access to morphine has not led to diversion and misuse.
With grant assistance from the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the PPSG is developing new tools to improve access by advocates to pain policy resources. These tools include an internet course in basic pain policy and how to approach policy change, an international fellows program for those who want to develop national projects, and technical assistance to experts.
PPSG has also begun a major new project to improve access to opioid pain medications in Sub Saharan Africa, in partnership with NHPCO, the African Palliative Care Association, the Foundation for Hospices in Sub Saharan Africa and OSI.
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