Human Rights Watch

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Guatemala: Thousands Face Needless End-of-Life Suffering

Pain Medicine Rule Change Urgently Needed

Wednesday 17 May 2017

(Guatemala City, May 17, 2017) – Thousands of patients with advanced illnesses in Guatemala suffer unnecessarily from severe pain because they cannot get appropriate pain medications, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 62-page report, “‘Punishing the Patient’: Ensuring Access to Pain Treatment in Guatemala,” documents how Guatemala’s drug control regulations – meant to prevent drug abuse – make it almost impossible for many patients with cancer and other advanced illnesses to get strong pain medicines like morphine. Patients described their extreme pain and other symptoms and how they struggled to cope with a dim prognosis. They said they had to make visits to multiple doctors because many were unable to adequately treat pain, and many said they faced lengthy travel on crowded buses to reach hospitals that offer pain treatment.

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