Pubdate: Mon, 9 Mar 2009
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Diederik Lohman


Libby Brooks (Never mind the evidence - a drug-free world is nigh, 5
March) rightfully decries the devastation the global "war on drugs"
has wrought on millions of people worldwide, through mass
incarceration of users, denial of life-saving health services and crop
eradication. But the "war on drugs" has other victims who deserve our
urgent attention: people suffering from severe pain.

Almost 50 years ago the UN agreed that states must ensure availability
of narcotic drugs for the "relief of pain and suffering". Yet that
promise remains a dead letter for 80% of the world population.
According to the World Health Organisation, tens of millions of people
suffer from severe pain without access to treatment, even though pain
medications are safe, effective and inexpensive.

As a recent Human Rights Watch report documented, the near-exclusive
focus on cracking down on illicit drug use has led many countries to
neglect their obligation to ensure people can benefit from the
medicinal qualities of narcotic drugs.

Diederik Lohman

Human Rights Watch