Solving the global crisis in access to pain relief: Lessons from country actions

Afsan Bhadelia, Liliana De Lima, Héctor Arreola-Ornelas, Xiaoxiao Jiang Kwete, Natalia M. Rodriguez, Felicia Marie Knaul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Annually, more than 61 million people worldwide experience about 6 billion days of serious health-related suffering that could be alleviated with access to palliative care and pain relief. However, palliative care is limited or nonexistent in most parts of the world. The access abyss is so stark that 50% of the world’s poorest populations live in countries that receive only 1% of the opioid analgesics distributed worldwide. By contrast, the richest 10% of the world’s population live in countries that receive nearly 90% of the opioid pain relief medications. The Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief developed a framework to measure the global burden of serious health-related suffering and generated the evidence base to address this burden. We present the inequities in access to pain relief and highlight key points from country responses, drawing from and building on recommendations of the Lancet Commission report “Alleviating the Access Abyss in Palliative Care and Pain Relief—An Imperative of Universal Health Coverage” to close the access abyss in relief of pain and other types of serious health-related suffering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-60
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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