- 10 November 2020 OPIS has released a policy paper that calls for legalising access to psilocybin and related substances for the treatment of cluster headaches, one of the most excruciating conditions known to medicine. Policy recommendations include allowing doctors to prescribe currently restricted substances such as psilocybin, LSD, DMT and …Read More »
- 9 July 2020 OPIS is dedicated to getting our ethical priorities right: attending urgently to the most intense suffering and embedding this principle at all levels of governance. In our July 2020 newsletter we share what we've been working on in these areas: -Access to morphine and palliative care -Relieving …Read More »
- 8 March 2020 OPIS has created a new page that summarises key information about the new coronavirus, how to protect yourself and others, and what to do if you get infected. We also provide references with further information. We do not want people to panic - this virus is not …Read More »
Human and non-human animals
Does the suffering of non-human animals matter as much as human suffering, or are "some animals more equal than others”? We consider it self-evident that suffering matters for its own sake, regardless of who experiences it, and that equal degrees of suffering therefore matter equally. Although we naturally have the strongest feelings for those closest to us and value their lives most, as an organisation OPIS cares about any sentient being, human or non-human, that is suffering intensely. The sheer number of animals suffering on this planet, including the huge numbers kept in horrific conditions on factory farms or otherwise treated with cruelty, means that animal suffering is the area with by far the greatest potential for harm reduction, and it is also the area where the most impact can often be achieved for a given amount of resources. But OPIS is not focused only on non-human animals, as we believe that a holistic approach to preventing suffering on our planet requires that we also aim to relieve our own suffering, and that this approach provides a strong basis for new frameworks for society that protect all sentient beings from suffering.
Global access to pain relief
Advocating globally for access to effective pain relief, including access to morphine in low- and middle-income countries, where the vast majority of terminal cancer patients and others in severe pain are unable to obtain it. In 2018 we held an official side event at the Human Rights Council in Geneva titled "Ending the Agony: Access to Morphine as an Ethical and Human Rights Imperative", in partnership with International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies (IDHDP). We also issued a widely distributed summary guide to the issue that is being used as an advocacy tool.
Support for local efforts to provide access to morphine
We have a close collaboration with Hospice Burkina, the palliative care association of the West African country of Burkina Faso, to bring morphine and palliative care to all those in need. We have co-organised and successfully crowdfunded a national conference in December 2019, in association with the Ministry of Health, to help launch palliative care as an integral part of the national health program. Collaborations with other countries are anticipated.
Cluster headaches and legal access to effective medication
Advocating for solutions to cluster headaches, also known as “suicide headaches” and recognised as one of the most excruciating pains known to medicine. A number of chemicals of the indoleamine class have been found to be highly effective at preventing and aborting attacks and episodes, but overly restrictive drug legislation makes access difficult. We are pursuing several approaches, including an information campaign and promoting more pragmatic drug policies in collaboration with other organisations.
Ending the torture of non-human animals
Promoting the end of factory farming and the torture and abuse of animals through talks, articles and books in several languages, advocacy tools and support for other organisations and their campaigns, as well as a guide to thriving on a plant-based diet. Members of our team are also active in groups like Vegan Option Canada and Animal Rebellion that seek to make vegan options widely available, and encourage a societal shift towards an anti-speciesist ethic that acknowledges non-human animal suffering as equally important as human suffering.
Visual overview of world suffering data
An ongoing project to collect data on present world suffering and estimate potential future suffering, and to represent it through a visually powerful overview, to help assess and adjust our priorities as a society. Data are being gathered on sources of suffering, numbers of individuals affected and estimated intensities and durations. Both human and animal suffering are being included and will be both treated separately and compared. More background is contained in this document.
White papers and blueprints for compassionate governance
Writing and widely disseminating white papers with specific solutions to suffering and guidance for global decision-making, and designing blueprints for more stable and compassionate governance. This includes developing a more holistic ethical framework that addresses apparent conflicts and shortcomings of existing ethical theories and acknowledges the role and limits of both rationality and intuition. We are also interested in how the study of complex social systems can guide activism and the creation of more stable compassionate governance.
Creative communication tools and campaigns
We are planning to create films and other communication tools and develop creative campaigns that will reach many people worldwide with a message of action-oriented compassion for human and non-human animals. The film "Earthlings", for example, had a dramatic effect in raising awareness of the widespread intense suffering of animals at the hands of humans. Our goal is to inspire people with a concrete vision for a more compassionate society and how we can bring it about.
"What can be worse than experiencing intense pain without relief? I've donated to support OPIS's initiative."
- Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University
OPIS is working to prevent intense suffering through evidence-based advocacy and education, including:
- Ensuring that terminal cancer patients can get morphine
- Allowing people with cluster "suicide" headaches to access life-changing treatments
Donations can also be made directly by bank transfer to:
IBAN: CH17 0900 0000 9116 4774 4
Postfinance Ltd, Mingerstrasse 20, 3030 Berne, Switzerland
Testimonials and endorsements
“Important read on how to close the global pain divide at the national level.” - Prof. Felicia Knaul, Chair of the Lancet Commission on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Control, re: our article on our Burkina Faso initiative
“Another step forward for the cluster community – OPIS has just released a policy paper advocating for legalized access to psilocybin for the treatment of cluster headache.” - Clusterbusters, a major patient advocacy organisation
“I cannot thank you enough.” - Tony Taipale, President, Finnish Horton (Cluster Headache) Association
“I feel really emotional, such a poignant portrayal...it illustrates the struggle so well. Thank you so much for being our ambassador." - J.H., cluster headache patient, re: our animated video
“I am rarely speechless! Your work is astonishingly wonderful and will, I am certain, contribute to the reduction of suffering.” - Prof. Larry Schor, cluster headache researcher, Univ. of West Georgia
Are you interested in helping to prevent and alleviate suffering in the world? Although OPIS is not currently hiring staff, we are always looking for enthusiastic people willing to contribute some of their time and expertise to projects and campaigns from whichever location they are based in (our own core team is spread between Switzerland, Spain and Canada). The work can include basic online research, writing, graphic design, video creation, advocacy campaigns and event organisation. You can contact us here - please let us know about your background and interests. We look forward to hearing from you!
We are also looking for donors and philanthropists interested in supporting creative new projects and promoting the prevention of intense suffering as our highest global priority. You can donate directly here.