Collaboration to Stop the Pain in Burkina Faso
OPIS has been collaborating since mid-2018 with Hospice Burkina, the palliative care association of Burkina Faso, to promote access to morphine to all patients in need. Hospice Burkina was founded in 2017 by Dr. Martin Lankoande, an anaesthesiologist who observed the intense human suffering caused by a lack of access to morphine and palliative care in Burkina Faso, a medium-sized country in West Africa. This is a problem that plagues most low- and middle-income countries, as described in detail in the 2017 Lancet Commission report. Through Hospice Burkina, which has about two dozen volunteers representing a range of professions with complementary expertise, Dr. Lankoande hopes to help change the medical system in his country to make the relief of pain and suffering a high priority, and ensure that everyone in need obtains effective pain relief.
A highlight of this collaboration was a national conference on pain relief and palliative care, held on 2-3 December 2019 in Ouagadougou. The conference was co-organised by OPIS and Hospice Burkina with the official support and collaboration of the Ministry of Health of Burkina Faso. A key objective was to bring together major stakeholders, including members of the government, doctors, other medical practitioners and pharmacists, to address the urgent issue of pain relief and palliative care, and to decide on concrete solutions to remove the obstacles. OPIS financed the conference through a successful crowdfunding campaign launched on 29 January 2019. The conference was a success, with the Minister of Health strongly supporting the initiative and promising to implement the recommendations. We have good reason to believe that this initiative will lead to the relief of pain and suffering in Burkina Faso as doctors start to be trained in prescribing morphine, overly strict regulations are relaxed and liquid oral morphine starts to be produced and true palliative care starts to become a reality.
For more information see the news post on the conference and read the press release: Burkina Faso takes major step forward on palliative care and access to morphine.
We share our experience in this article "How a Local Champion can bring the Government on Board" which appeared in the bulletin of Swiss medical network Medicus Mundi.
Earlier in the year, Jonathan Leighton and Martin Lankoande attended the congress of the Fédération Francophone Internationale de Soins Palliatifs (FISP, International Francophone Palliative Care Federation) on 13 June 2019 in Paris. There they met with many others who are working to improve access to palliative care in Africa and discussed strategy to bring things forward in Burkina Faso. Dr. Lankoande was honoured with the FISP prize for "Diffusion de la Culture Palliative 2019" (Dissemination of Palliative Culture 2019).