About 5.5 billion people cannot access pain relief medications – Report

DrugsAround 5.5 billion people still have limited or no access to medicines containing narcotic drugs such as codeine or morphine, leaving 75 per cent of the world population without access to proper pain relief treatment.

The Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said in its Annual Report for 2014, launched in London on March 3.

The Report, from the United Nations Information Centre and made available to the GNA, notes that around 92 per cent of morphine used worldwide is consumed by only 17 per cent of the world population, primarily living in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

“Addressing the discrepancy in the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes is one of the obligations for Governments to comply with the International Drug Control Conventions” it said.

To achieve a balanced and integrated approach to the drug problem, Governments have been urged to ensure that demand reduction was one of the first priorities of their drug control policies, and put greater emphasis on and provide support and appropriate resources to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

The INCB noted that drug control measures do not exist in a vacuum and that, in their implementation of the drug control conventions, States must also comply with their obligations under other treaties, including international human rights obligations. While it is up to States to decide on specific sanctions for drug-related offences, the INCB called for the abolition of the death penalty in such cases.

On availability of narcotic drugs in emergency and conflict situations, the report points out that natural disasters and armed conflicts around the world can further limit access to essential medicines.

The Board therefore reminds States that in cases of emergency medical care, simplified control measures can be applied.

This was the case in 2013 in the Philippines following the destruction by Typhoon Haiyan, when the Board pointed out to all countries as well as to providers of humanitarian assistance the simplified procedures for the export, transportation and delivery of medicines containing substances under international control.

It said states should also be aware, that under international humanitarian law, parties to armed conflicts have to allow access to medical care, including access to essential medicine, for the civilian population in territories under their control.

According to the report, new psychoactive substances continues to be a threat and noted that there has been an increase of 11 per cent in the number of new psychoactive substances (NPS) with 388 unique substances identified as of 2014, compared to 348 the previous year.

The extent of use of NPS worldwide illustrates the dynamic nature of the drug problem, the report added.

Source: GNA

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