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Symptom relief and access to pain management is a human right

The incidence of non communicable diseases worldwide

When talking about diseases in lower and middle income countries (LMICs), most people immediately think of communicable disease such as malaria, AIDS, hepatitis and ebola rather than non communicable diseases (NSDs) such as cancer and yet the highest number of deaths from cancer occur in LMICs.

  • Over 8 million people die from cancer every year with 70% of deaths occurring in LMICs

  • There are 16 to 20 million news cases of cancer globally every year with 75% occurring in LMICs

  • NCDs such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes account for two out of three deaths globally and yet only receive just over 1% of health-related development aid compared with HIV/AIDS which receives 30%

  • Improved living standards has actually meant an increase in the use of tobacco, alcohol and junk food which are all known to be risk factors for the development of NCDs such as cancer and heart disease

The Cancer Atlas

Treatment, survival rates and palliative care in Nepal  v  The UK

Dying in pain in Nepal is a fact of life.

In the UK when a disease such as cancer is far too advanced or incurable, patients rightly expect at the very least to receive effective pain relief drugs such as diamorphine and many will be offered a hospice bed. However, in LMICs such as Nepal, over 90% of terminally ill patients have no access to pain relief medication and even less people have access to a hospice bed.  As a result, in many cases they have to endure very painful deaths, usually at home, causing their families immense suffering too.                                                                                                   

UK Nepal

General adult cancer 1 year survival rates 72.8%

General adult cancer 10 year survival rates 50%

General child cancer 5 year survival rates 84%

Those in receipt of palliative care in hospice each year 48,000

Those in receipt of palliative care at home each year 225,000

Number of adult hospice beds available 2,76025

Total number of hospices 2202

Number of dedicated children's hospices 580

Number of terminally ill patients with access to opioids 100%15%

WHO health statistics on Nepal

IARC Nepal Cancer Statistics

The need for increased palliative care in Nepal

Having spent a considerable amount of time as a palliative care specialist in Nepal, Dr Stuart Brown knows only too well the urgent need for increased end of life care for terminally ill patients living both in Kathmandu and in the rural areas of Nepal where access to pain management treatment is in many cases impossible.

He recently gave a presentation on the subject of palliative care in developing countries. To download Stuart's presentation, please click on the link below:

Palliative Care in Developing Countries

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