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27 gov't hospitals offer free morphine to poor cancer patients

The Department of Health (DOH) said poor cancer patients can get free morphine in several government hospitals/institutions starting this year.

The DOH said morphine in the form of tablets is presently available in 27 government hospitals; and from the non-government organization Technical Working Group (TWG) for the Accessibility and Availability of Opioid for Pain and Palliative Care.

The NGO is a multidisciplinary, multisectoral group that facilitates and advocates for policies that improve accessibility and availability of opioid analgesics for pain and palliative care in the country created in April 2008.

With the primary objective of breaking the barriers and other misconceptions about opioids, and in coordination with the DOH, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and other partner agencies, the TWG has initiated and implemented activities for opioid accessibility and availability in the past years.

“Pain management is one of the most important aspects of health care especially for those with chronic or terminal illnesses yet scores of Filipino patients are suffering from pain unnecessarily due to lack of accessibility and availability of opioid medicines such as morphine,” the DOH said in a statement.

“Although eliminating pain is clinically possible as there are a number of safe and effective methods that treat pain such as opioid analgesics (i.e. morphine), it is often left untreated because access to these controlled medications is a problem for many. Impediments in regulation, procurement, and knowledge and attitude on opioids often pose obstacles in the adequate use of these drugs for medical purposes,” the DOH said.

The government procured an about P10 million worth of morphine at the end of 2008. The drugs were then turned over to selected government hospitals and hospices in Metro Manila in February 2009 to be used by indigent patients suffering from pain.

The drugs were distributed to at least 10 DOH hospitals by July 2009, and were increased to 16 DOH hospitals by September 2009.

At the start of 2010, the morphine tablets are available in the following hospitals/institutions: National Capital Region (NCR) – Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Sta. Cruz, Manila; Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City; East Avenue Medical Center in East Ave., Quezon City; UP-Philippine General Hospital in Taft Avenue, Manila; Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Project 4, Quezon City.

In Cordillera Autonomous region (CAR) – Baguio General Hospital & Medical Center in Baguio City; Region 1 – Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital in Ilocos Norte and Batanes General Hospital in Basco, Batanes; Region 2 – Cagayan Valley Medical Center in Tuguegarao City and Veterans Memorial Hospital in Nueva Viscaya;

Region 3 – Jose B. Lingad General Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga and Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center in Cabanatuan City; Region 4A –Madre de Amor Hospice Foundation c/o Healthserve Los Baños, Inc. in Laguna and Batangas Regional Hospital in Batangas City; Region 4B – Ospital ng Palawan in Puerto Prinsesa City; Region 5 – Bicol Regional Training & Teaching Hospital in Albay;

Region 6 – Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City and Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City; Region 7 – Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Bohol and Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center Cebu City; Region 8 – Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City;

Region 9 – Zamboanga City Medical Center in Zamboanga City; Region 10 – Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro and Hilarion Ramiro Memorial Hospital in Ozamis City; Region 11 – Davao Medical Center and Davao Regional Hospital in Davao City; Region 12 – Cotabato Regional & Medical Center in SOCCSKSARGEN; and CARAGA – CARAGA Regional Hospital in Surigao City. (PNA)

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