The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr Linus Awute, mni, has said that launching of Pain-Free Hospital Initiative Project is aimed at improving access to essential pain medicines in Nigeria.

Mr. Awute made this known during a Press Briefing organised by the Ministry to Flagg-off the Pain-Free Initiative Pilot Scheme in four federal tertiary health facilities.
In his speech, Mr. Awute said that ‘pain relief is a core component of cancer and HIV treatment, it is estimated that approximately 80% of people with advanced cancer and 50% of HIV require narcotic medicines to treat moderate or severe pain”.

He said further that ‘in 2012, about 177,000 people were estimated to have died in moderate or severe pain from HIV or cancer. In the same year, the utilization of narcotic medicines such as morphine was enough to treat only 266 people, representing mere 0.2% coverage of pain treatment”

To this end, Mr.Awute informed that the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the America cancer society’s treat-pain program is to improve access to essential pain medicines in Nigeria, adding that the ministry has imported 19.2kg of pulverized morphine, enough to treat about 3,000 patients. He maintained that the America cancer society’s treat-pain program has been providing technical support to the ministry.

He announced that the Ministry has selected four hospitals namely: University Of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, University College Hospital, Ibadan, University Of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu and National Hospital, Abuja based on their utilization of oral morphine solution, for the pilot scheme.
He emphasised that the one year pilot project will further refine the design of the project model for effective replication in other Federal Tertiary Health Facilities across the country.

In her welcome address, the Director, Food and Drug Services, Mrs. Vera Ogbechie stressed that the Pain-Free Initiative is domiciled in the Food and Drug Service Department of the Ministry, She added that ‘’the leadership demonstrated by the Permanent Secretary and Top Management Committee of the Ministry in realizing set goals is to actively raise the quality of life for every Nigerian through dedicated service delivery, is acknowledged and greatly appreciated’’.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of American Cancer Society, Dr Mega O’ Brien, said that the Pain-Free Hospital Initiative is a pilot program to strengthen the skills of health workers and equip them to provide high- quality pain treatment to their patients in line with International Treatment Guidelines.

The project will ensure adequate supply of pain medicines at affordable rate in hospitals are used appropriately, she added.

Ezeaja Ikemfuna

Prin. information officer

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