How Africa wants to break the curse of pain


By highlighting the efforts of palliative care pioneers in Africa promoting better access to morphine, this project will shed light on the lack of affordable generics and the restrictive regulation of anti-pain drug imports.

  • €13,500 Budget in Euros
  • 2019 Final release date
  • 2 Round winner
  • 2 Locations

Uganda was the first African country to fully integrate palliative care into its health system. In the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, pain relief treatments are still extremely rare in hospital structures. But the palliative care training provided in Kampala is starting to bear fruit, as the arrival of a new generation of anti-pain pioneers in African hospitals shows. They fight prejudices and difficulties in accessing certain opiates.

Cancer is the third-leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. Most patients arrive in hospitals at very advanced stages of malignant tumors. Pain-relief treatments are still extremely rare in many countries on the continent. The WHO estimates that 78% of the 40 million people in need of palliative care live in low-income countries.

This project explores the complex issue of pain management in Africa and advocacy for broader access and use of morphine through the history of African palliative care pioneers, such as Rose Kiwanuka, Uganda's first palliative care nurse, founder of the Palliative Care Association from Uganda which now has its own campus: in Kampala, the collaboration of a French NGO, the Global Alliance cancer clinic and the palliative care training center will help to understand how the Ugandan model was built based on the allocation of specific funds for the purchase and production of local morphine, as well as on the work of nurses who have received training in pain relief to prescribe and administer morphine orally.

To better understand the challenge of nurses and specialized doctors, the project also visits Cameroon, a West African state where access to palliative care is still at a standstill. Paradoxically, the opiates are dealt with openly on the streets. The project investigates the solutions recommended by relevant actors to generalize access to palliative care while regaining control over the smuggling of addictive opiates.

Follow us and join the conversation