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Promoting access to essential palliative care medicines

Connected to APCA's policy-related work is the advocacy and technical assistance for the availability and access to opioids and other essential palliative care medicines to ensure effective pain and symptom control. APCA supports governments and other local service providers to ensure the provision of opioids and other palliative care medicines. APCA also supports the review of supply chain mechanisms, and the evaluation of national opioids control policies in order to identify regulatory and other barriers and take action to improve the availability of opioid analgesics.   Through activities such as study visits and training of policy makers and service providers on use of pain medications, we facilitate a hands-on learning experience for the training of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health workers in pain management.

APCA also supports the review of national medicine lists and makes recommendations for the inclusion of opioid among other pain medicines based on the International Association of Hospice and Palliative Care and WHO international model list for essential palliative care medicine lists. Training and guidance is also provided to clinicians on mechanisms for safe access and use of pain medicines such as opioids. 

The ultimate goal is to ensure that patients access necessary medicines, do not suffer pain and other symptoms; and hence improve quality of life for both patients and their families. APCA supports and promotes task shifting to increase the prescriber base for opioids and to ensure patients have access to pain management. Drawing heavily on Uganda's example of access provision to palliative care medicines, APCA has initiated support for trainings on the use of opioids and pain management for clinical palliative care providers. A pocket guide for clinicians on using opioids to manage pain is also available at the APCA resource centre  and website to ensure patient access to, and safe management of, controlled medicines.