February 17, 2017 - 14:48 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - About 8,000 people die from cancer in Armenia every year, many spending their last days in excruciating pain, Human Rights Watch said as it urged the government to take the necessary steps for providing palliative care to people with life-limiting illnesses.
"Armenia is taking an important step towards ending their suffering, and the government recently adopted a national strategy to introduce palliative care services, which focuses on treating pain and other physical symptoms, and provides psychosocial support for people with life-limiting illnesses. The strategy specifies reforms in policy, education, and medicines’ availability, and designates the responsible state institutions," the group said.
"When curative treatment is no longer effective, patients with advanced cancer in Armenia are simply sent home. Abandoned by the health care system at arguably the most vulnerable time of their lives, people with life-limiting illnesses face pain, fear, and anguish without professional support. The support they need is palliative care," HRW says.
Morphine, the mainstay medication for treating severe pain, is inexpensive and easy to administer, but fewer than 3 percent of those who need morphine in Armenia get it. That’s because the government has put in place nearly insurmountable bureaucratic barriers around the prescribing and dispensing of morphine.
The Armenian government has long recognized the need for palliative care, but it has taken officials over three years to develop and adopt the strategy and action plan.
"Armenian authorities should urgently overhaul the regulations and promptly take the necessary steps to ensure that cancer patients can get the pain treatment they need – and to which they have the right," HRW's report said.