Washington, D.C.--July 29, 2014--Today the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) announced a new partnership to improve access to essential pain medications for people living with HIV in Swaziland. As part of ACS' Treat the Pain initiative, this new partnership will help improve efforts to better integrate pain management into HIV/AIDS services throughout the country.
Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence in the world, with more than 26 percent of adults ages 15-49 infected. Many of these individuals also suffer from AIDS-related opportunistic cancer, such as cervical cancer and Kaposi's sarcoma. Severe pain is common among individuals suffering from HIV and/or cancer, particularly in the final stages of illness. Although access to comprehensive HIV and other clinical services has expanded in recent years, access to pain medication, like morphine, remains very low.
"Pain management is an important, but often overlooked part of comprehensive HIV care and treatment services," said Mohammed Ali Mahdi, M.D., M.P.H., EGPAF's country director for Swaziland. "Our partnership with ACS will strengthen EGPAF's efforts to support comprehensive HIV services and ensure that people infected with HIV have greater access to pain medications that can help improve their quality of life."
Under the new ACS-EGPAF partnership, EGPAF will work with the Swaziland Ministry of Health (MOH) to integrate pain management into health facilities across all four regions of the country. HIV services will serve as a critical entry point for incorporating pain relief protocols and services into comprehensive clinical services.
EGPAF will second a physician to the MOH's palliative care team within the Swaziland National AIDS Program (SNAP). This physician will provide technical assistance and training at hospitals and health facilities. EGPAF will also support efforts to connect MOH and SNAP programs with HIV service providers, community-based initiatives, and other organizations to improve community outreach and education related to HIV and pain management.
"More than 3.2 billion people worldwide lack access to adequate pain treatment even though morphine, which is the most effective treatment for severe pain, is safe, effective, plentiful, inexpensive and easy-to-use," said Meg O'Brien, M.D., American Cancer Society managing director for global cancer treatment. "Treat the Pain is very pleased to embark on this new partnership with EGPAF to address the crisis of untreated pain in Swaziland so that we can help alleviate suffering and improve quality of life for people living with HIV and, in many cases, opportunistic cancer."
EGPAF and ACS have agreed to a two year partnership with options to expand the program after the initial agreement expires. Since 2004, EGPAF has worked with partners, community leaders, and the government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment services.
About the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF):
EGPAF is a global leader in the fight against pediatric HIV/ AIDS, and has reached 20 million women with services to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. It currently supports more than 7,000 health facilities and works in 15 countries to implement prevention, care, and treatment services; to further advance innovative research; and to execute global advocacy activities that bring dramatic change to the lives of millions of women, children, and families worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.pedaids.org.
About the American Cancer Society and Treat the Pain:
Treat the Pain is an international program within the American Cancer Society to improve access to essential pain medicines. Treat The Pain works directly with governments and partners in low and middle-income countries to make essential pain medicines universally available and has provided 2.8 million days of treatment since 2011. The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. For more information, visit the American Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.org or see http://www.treatthepain.org.
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