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article imageNigeria to import morphine in pain relief initiative

By Layne Weiss     Mar 6, 2012 in Health
The New York Times is reporting that last week Nigeria's health minister announced plans to immediately buy 55 pounds of Morphine for its nations hospitals, and that Nigeria will form an alliance with the Global Access to Pain Relief Initiative.
According to Dr Meg O'Brien, director of the Global Access to Pain Relief Initiative (GAPRI), about 177,000 Nigerians die from pain due to cancer and AIDS each year, but Nigeria has imported only two pounds of morphine since 2007.
O'Brien says Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Health is collaborating with GAPRI to make essential pain medication available in Nigeria.
Nigeria's health minister Dr C.O. Onyebuch Chukwu revealed that his cancer specialists and drug regulators had debated for 2 years on the country's pain relief issue, and ultimately decided on "a bold plan of action," which includes the "emergency morphine purchase." He explained that this purchase would be funded by the technical support of GAPRI and the financial support of Foundation Philanthropia.
The Pain Relief Initiative was formed by the American Cancer Society and the Union for International Cancer Control. in the summer of 2010. Its objective was to address the little known issue of severely limited access to pain relief. Millions of underprivileged people die of extreme pain each year usually because of their country's drug trafficking laws, which aggressively limit opiate imports. Doctors in poorer countries are also not used to prescribing strong pain medication. The initiative estimates that about 5 billion of the world's people live in countries without adequate access to pain relief.
The Director of the initiative, Dr Meg O'Brien said the initiative will help Nigeria buy the morphine, turn it into usable pill, liquid, and injection forms, and also train Nigerian doctors on how to use it.
According to Nigerian Newspaper, The Nation, Dr Chukwu elaborated on Dr. O'Brien's comments, and announced that the "Ministry of Health will add a full-time consultant to the Food and Drug Services department to assist the director to making these drugs available to patients who need them while preventing their misuse."
He added that the "Ministry of Health is also undertaking a 3-year collaboration with the Global Access to Pain Relief Initiative to assist the government with approving the supply of these medications and their availability to patients."
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