Haiti, a country lacking in pain medication

In a recent blog post, chronicling the abject state of neglect meted out to living, breathing, suffering Haitians, who have agonizing illnesses and no recourse from the pain, Dr. John A. Carroll reawakened a topic that's long been ignored. As a practicing MD Carroll states that, in his over 30 years of working in the country, not once has he seen the inexpensive, easily obtained and highly effective alleviant morphine ordered.


It's a topic some have given voice to in the wider media; most noticeably, respected Hollywood actor, Sean Penn. After the Haiti earthquake, the actor called on his considerable connections to transport morphine and other IV medications to the victims he'd seen reports of undergoing surgeries and amputations without anesthetics.

While individual instances like this shed some small light on the issue, and the efforts of those who act are certainly not to be cheapened, they are like slapping a band-aid on a gunshot wound. They solve an immediate need in the short-term, but then, as the focus shifts to another day and other problems, the aid runs out; supplies dwindle and fade and the sick are left suffering once more.

It is not the first time Dr. Carroll has written about the matter, earlier he wrote that, 'Haitian lives are painful up to and including their last breath.' He has stated that the problem seems to be that morphine, used in first world countries to the tune of 93% of its international supply just hasn't 'caught on' in Haiti yet; it is possible that less than 1% of the people in Haiti dying from cancer are given morphine to treat their pain.

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