Opioid(s) is term well known to health experts. However, to those that lack any basic training in the medical field; opioid(s) is undeniably a jargon. In essence, these are medicines prescribed to a patient by a doctor to help ease pain. It goes without saying that morphine falls under this category of medicines because it is a very powerful painkiller. It is classified as a strong opioid and placed in step three (step two for children) by the World Health Organization (WHO).
As many as 90% of patients with advanced cancer or HIV/AIDS experience moderate to severe pain, and pain is the second most common complaint of the over 33 million individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world.
The Kenya Ministry of Health (MoH) recognizes that pain needs to be properly assessed and treated using the appropriate medications as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) which recommends oral morphine solution for the treatment of moderate to severe pain in both adults and children.
That explains why Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) has been vocal in advocating for easy access and appropriate use of oral morphine in Kenya. This is because most patients in need of palliative care experience moderate to severe pain and need to be on morphine for pain alleviation.
Therefore, on 19th of April 2017, KEHPCA facilitated the manufacturing of Oral Morphine Solution (OMS) at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). During this activity, 1000 bottles of adult oral morphine and 100 bottles of pediatric oral morphine were produced. One may want to inquire why 100 bottles for pediatric morphine? Here is the response; the consumption of morphine by children in Kenya is currently low. The adult and pediatric OMS concentration is 10mg/ml and 1mg/ml respectively.
It is good to note that this is the third batch of morphine being produced. Previously; the first batch was used by patients at KNH while the second batch KEHPCA distributed to a number of palliative care units and hospices in the country. Nevertheless, the bar has been set high this time round; there is an increase in production of morphine. This will be distributed to as many hospitals as possible countywide.
“Our goal is to ensure that patients in need of morphine in Kenya have access to it. That is why this time round we scaled up the production,” explained Dr. Aywak, a pharmacist at KNH.
The manufacturing was made possible by KEHPCA in collaboration with KNH, DANIDA, MOH, Kenya Medical and Supplies Authority (KEMSA), Treat the Pain but to name a few. The morphine produced is of high-quality and consequently appropriate for human consumption.
As morphine and codeine are on the WHO List of Essential Medicines, countries have to provide these medications as part of their core obligations under the right to health, regardless of whether or not they have been included on their domestic essential medicines lists. (Lohman et al.: Access to pain treatment as a human right. BMC Medicine 2010 8:8) http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/documents/s18774en/s18774en.pdf