Thousands of cancer patients die in Armenia without receiving palliative care

June 6, 2019  17:27

Palliative care is aimed at improving the quality of life of ill people suffering from severe pain. These include and oncological patients, suffering from severe pain, especially in the last months of life.

According to director of the Europe and Central Asia Department of Human Rights Watch Giorgi Gogia, about 8 thousand people die from cancer annually in Armenia.

“80% of them die in conditions of extreme pain, and they need opioid analgesics,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the number of opioid drugs in Armenia is not enough.

“Even if all the available drugs are combined, only 2% of those who die of cancer will be able to receive palliative care,” Gogia said.

The expert drew attention that in conditions of a strong pain syndrome, patients are deprived of the opportunity to live a full life. Morphine helps keep pain under control, and the World Health Organization recommends using it for treating pain.

Gogia notes that the government of Armenia made a significant contribution to the implementation of palliative care, especially from the point of view of legislative initiatives. However, when opioid analgesics are prescribed, oncologists in Armenia continue to be guided by the outdated regulations for 1994, ignoring the new recommendations that meet international standards.

“According to accepted standards, a cancer patient must receive opioid pain treatment in the last 90 days of his life. However, Armenian doctors continue to perceive these drugs as a means of alleviating the last few days of a dying patient,” he noted.

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