Painkiller Is Denied to Poor

Morphine is cheap and available, but it's withheld because of 'opoid phobia'
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2007 10:08 AM CDT
Six first-world nations consume nearly 80% of the world's morphine, leaving the ill and injured of poorer nations in agony.   (
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(Newser) – Though morphine is cheap, effective, and widely available, most people sufferering extreme pain don't  get it, the New York Times reports. The poorest 80% of the world’s population consumes only 6% of the pain-killer. Why? Because health care workers in poor countries are afraid to prescribe morphine, or not allowed to. "Opiod phobia" is what one hospice chief in Sierra Leone calls it.

Much of Africa still adheres to outdated Western medical theory, according to the Times, in which fear of addiction outweighs the importance of palliative care. That's exacerbated, in many countries, by recent civil wars that have left large numbers of addicted child soldiers roaming the streets. “I wouldn’t want to leave my staff in charge of morphine,” one doctor told the Times. “The potential for abuse is so high.”