Declaring war on pain

October 2010   Comments

In September, at the inaugural International Pain Summit, in Montreal, health-care providers and researchers from 84 countries declared that access to pain management is a fundamental human right. The International Association for the Study of Pain hosted the summit to call attention to the woefully inadequate state of pain management worldwide. 

In the Declaration of Montreal, the association’s chapter members proposed that governments, health-care administrators and health professionals be given the support and knowledge they need to establish laws, policies and systems that will promote fully adequate pain management. The declaration states the need to recognize certain human rights, including access to pain management without discrimination and access to health professionals who are skilled in the use of appropriate pain medicine. It calls for pain to be assessed as the “fifth vital sign” and emphasizes the obligation of health professionals to offer their patients reasonable pain management.

The World Health Organization estimates that five billion people live in countries with no or low access to pain-relieving medicine; a recent article in the Lancet called this situation a “global health tragedy.”

IASP launches the 2010-2011 Global Year Against Acute Pain on October 18.

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