Federal Government, in partnership with Pain-Free Hospital Initiative, PFHI, has launched a treatment intervention with a drug known as oral morphine for a pain-free treatment therapy for cancer patients and other diseases associated with pains.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute, at a press briefing and launch of the initiative yesterday in Abuja, said that the official launch of the project was aimed at improving pain medicines in Nigeria.
Awute said, “The Pain-Free Hospital Initiative is one year hospital- wide quality improvement intervention to integrate pain treatment into service delivery by providing education for patients and staff, raising motivation and awareness, measuring and documenting pain levels, and improving essential medicine supply.’’
He noted that, in 2012, about 177,000 people in Nigeria died due to moderate or severe pain from HIV or cancer; in the same year, utilization of narcotic medicines like morphine was enough to treat only 266 people which was just 0.2 percent coverage of pain treatment need.
Morphine, he said, has been designated as an essential medicine by the World Health Organization, WHO, and is on the national essential medicines list, adding that the ministry has imported 19.2kgs of pulverized (powdered) morphine, enough to treat about 3,000 patients.
He added that the ministry has an on-going initiative to increase access of patients to essential pain medicines and the Pain-Free Hospital Initiative is designed to integrate pain treatment into service delivery at hospital level.
The National Coordinator, Pain- Free Hospital Initiative, PFHI, Pharm. James Yakubu, said that more than 2 million people world-wide die from untreated pain but there is a solution through the use of oral morphine treatment, adding that Nigeria is among top ten countries with untreated deaths in pains with about 182, 000 deaths.
Managing Director, Global Cancer Treatment, Director Treat the Pain of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Megan O’Brien in an interview with newsmen said that pain relief medicines are needed for the treatment of cancer, sickle cell, injuries and surgery but government has been able to purchase only 30kg of the medicine in the last three years, adding that there was the need to make people to prescribe and use the medicine.
“We are working with the Ministry of Health and NAFDAC to develop the system for production and also tracking systems to account for which hospitals have the drugs,” O’Brien said.
The Permanent Secretary launched the pilot project of the PFHI in four hospitals namely, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, University College Hospital, Ibadan, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu and National Hospital, Abuja.

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