Introduction Many patients in Low- and middle-income countries lack access to the opioid medicines that the World Health Organization designates as essential for pain control. Disparities in opioid consumption are partly related to policies affecting opioid access. Pain associated with cancer can significantly influence an individual’s morbidity and quality of life. Therefore, Pain relief is fundamental to quality of life and palliative care.
Aims To evaluate the availability of oral Morphine in relation to pain control need in Cameroon and national opioids regulation policies.
Methods Analysis of opioid consumption data for Cameroon as published by the international narcotic control board (INCB), followed by a descriptive literature review of publicly available documents on pain control needs and opioid regulations for Cameroon using PubMed, Medline, Google Scholar, Google, Ministry of Public Health Website and National Institute of Statistics Cameroon.
Results The annual consumption of morphine in Cameroon has steadily increased from 0.07 mg/capita in 1985 to 0.35 mg/capita (7.6 kg) in 2012. About 55.3% of cancer and HIV related deaths are associated with moderate/severe pain. Almost all (98%) of patients dying of HIV or Cancer have untreated moderate/severe pain. An average annual import of 3.4 kg of Morphine was recorded between 20011 and 2013, while a minimum of about 183 Kg is required for HIV and cancer patients only. Importation of morphine is subject to signed authorization signed by the minister of public health.
Conclusions There is a huge unmet need for pain relief with oral morphine in Cameroon. Limited access is at least in part from unduly strict national narcotic drug policies and regulations. Continuous advocacy with the ministry of health is essential to reduce the suffering of many Cameroonians.
Impact Discussion on amended opioids regulatory policies
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